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Rays notes: Humbled Price seeks breakthrough

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Published:   |   Updated: April 28, 2013 at 01:43 AM
CHICAGO -

Hard to believe but LHP David Price takes the mound this afternoon 24 games after he took the mound on Opening Day still looking for his first victory of the season. The 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner is 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA in his first five starts.

“This isn't due to a lack of hard work or a lack of preparation,” Price said. “I want to start getting good results on the field. I want to have ground balls go right at people, like last year. I gave up hard-hit balls last year, they just happened to go right at somebody. Even the soft-hit balls were going at people.”

The last time Price pitched at U.S. Cellular Field was last September when he beat the White Sox for his 20th win of the season. That coincidence isn't lost on Price, who is using the same locker he used during his last trip to Chicago. It would be fitting for him to get win No. 1 on the same mound where he earned win No. 20.

“It would be fine with me,” he said. “I would love for that to happen.”

Price said he's noticed hitters making adjustments at the plate. He's also feels he is throwing the ball well. Things just haven't gone his way.

“I don't think I've thrown as bad as my numbers say,” Price said.

Still, he added, “This is a tough game. It's trying at times. It's going to test you mentally, physically. That's what I'm going through right now.”

Manager Joe Maddon said he's not concerned with Price's slow start.

“The concern would be based on not throwing the ball like he can,” Maddon said. “If there's an injury, that would be my concern. A guy that young, that athletic, that good, in good health, you know it's going to come back to him.”

Price said he's humbled somewhat by his start, but said he doesn't feel any pressure to live up to his 2012 success.

“It is very trying. I guess it is humbling,” he said. “I didn't think I was going to go out there and people were going to bow down because I won the Cy Young last year or anything like that. That probably makes it a little tougher when you do win an award like that.”

Scott update DH Luke Scott (right calf strain) returned to the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs' lineup Saturday. He is expected to play for the Stone Crabs today then have his calf re-evaluated Monday.

Scott, who hasn't played since March 22, could rejoin the team Tuesday in Kansas City.

Escobar not ready SS Yunel Escobar tested his right hamstring Saturday afternoon with a series of running drills and a round of early batting practice but found himself on the bench for the third straight day.

“I don't want to press him right now and then have any kind of setback,” Maddon said. “It's getting better, but it's not time to push it.”

Maddon said Escobar likely will miss today's game, as well. He could return to the lineup Tuesday when the Rays open a three-game series in Kansas City.

Starting 5 With CF Desmond Jennings returning to the lineup after a day of rest, Maddon dropped RF Matt Joyce to No. 2. He followed that with SS Ben Zobrist, 3B Evan Longoria and 1B James Loney.

With Loney hot — 14-for-23 with five doubles, a home run and five RBIs in his 10 games prior to Saturday — Maddon thinks he found someone to protect Longoria. And if Joyce can get his bat going, Maddon thinks he has someone at No. 2 who can help set the table for Zobrist and Longoria.

Maddon said he envisioned a top five like this during spring training with Scott hitting fifth. He said he will keep this top five against right-handers.

Noteworthy C Jose Molina left Saturday's game in the fourth inning after being hit by a pitch. He suffered a right quad contusion and is listed as day-to-day. … Price will receive the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's 2012 Wilbur “Bullet” Rogan Award on Tuesday in Kansas City. He will also present the museum with a $5,000 check from the Rays. … UTL Kelly Johnson began play Saturday tied with Chicago's RF Alex Rios for the major-league lead with four outfield assists. … OF Wil Myers' streak of reaching base in every game he's played this season at Triple-A Durham ended at 19 after going 0-for-4 Saturday against Syracuse.

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