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Rays notes: Price deftly avoids pain in neck

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 02:02 PM
SARASOTA -

Tuesday's game with the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium did not include any towel mishaps for Tampa Bay Rays LHP David Price, because Price avoided contact with the tricky linen.

"I didn't towel myself off between innings," Price said after his 3 2/3-inning stint. "It was hot. I kind of let (the sweat) dry on me."

It was his neck that Price strained while toweling off his head in between innings of his last outing and caused him to be the punch-line of many jokes within the Rays clubhouse and the national media.

But everything is fine now, though manager Joe Maddon wondered before the game if the Orioles would tamper with the towels stacked in the Rays dugout.

"If we're playing with rouge towels, it could be a concern," Maddon said. "You never know if the Orioles threw a little extra towel hardener in there or they may have attached some Velcro to the towels."

When asked what would happen when the Rays pitch in Boston, Maddon replied, "BYOTs in Boston."

Price allowed four runs in the second inning with the last three coming on Jai Miller's home run. He allowed five hits, walked two, struck out four and called it a good start.

"Neck's fine. Arm feels good. Legs are good. Shoulder's good. I feel good right now," Price said.

Brignac improving

SS Reid Brignac will have to improve his offense if he wants to be the regular shortstop. That much was presented to him during his meeting with Maddon and executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman early in camp.

Maddon said before Tuesday's game that Brignac has made some strides in that direction.

"He's working better at-bats. He's swinging at better pitches. He's taken a couple of walks so far, running the bases pretty well, bunted fine the other day," Maddon said.

Brignac, 0-for-3 against the Orioles, is batting .333.

"It's really early to say he's accomplished all these things, but he's definitely moving in the right direction," Maddon said.

More on hair shaving event

Lightning forward Vinny Lecavalier was the driving force behind Thursday's fundraiser when Maddon and nearly 30 of the Rays players, coaches and personnel will shave their heads before the game with the Phillies to raise money for Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital.

Lecavalier called Maddon's agent and suggested Maddon shed his long, brownish-red locks for the cause.

"It was Lecavalier's idea in the beginning and we're kind of growing it right now," Maddon said.

Maddon also said the team is working on a plan to involve fans in the event.

S-Rod at second base

SS Sean Rodriguez returned Tuesday from missing four games with a sprained knuckle on his left index finger and played second base for the first three innings and shortstop for the next three.

Maddon said that was more of a plan to get Rodriguez some at-bats Tuesday than have him work at another position in case he opens the year as the Rays utility infielder.

"I think we're OK, because here's a guy who says he can catch tomorrow and hasn't caught in five years, 10 years, whatever," Maddon said. "He doesn't really concern himself with that. I know he messes around with ground balls on occasion just in a practice situation. So I'm not worried that if we had to move him that he'd be able to do it."

Game stuff

The Rays scored more runs in the ninth inning — five — than they scored in any one game this spring during their 7-7, 10-inning tie with the Orioles.

SS Hak-Ju Lee gave the Rays a 6-5 lead in the ninth on a two-run, opposite field double down the right-field line. C Chris Gimenez singled home Lee to give the Rays a two-run lead.

Orioles LF Ryan Flaherty spoiled the comeback with a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the inning of RHP Ryan Reid.

The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs off RHP Dane De La Rosa in the bottom of the 10th, but De La Rosa pitched himself out of the jam.

Noteworthy

DH Luke Scott made his second start of the spring and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a walk. Maddon said Scott is nearing the time when he will be able to play in back-to-back games. … 1B Carlos Peña batted second again. … Maddon expects the catcher who will share the position with Jose Molina to separate himself from the pack in the next week to 10 days. Stephen Vogt (.364) has been impressive with his bat, while Maddon said he has been impressed with the way Jose Lobaton has thrown the ball. Defense will be the deciding factor. … RF Matt Joyce hit his second homer of the spring. It came off former Ray P Jason Hammel, who allowed that one hit in three innings. … The Rays drew the second sellout crowd (8,045) to Ed Smith Stadium this spring.

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