ST. PETERSBURG - LHP David Price returns to the Tropicana Field mound this afternoon for the first time since leaving in the third inning May 15 against the Red Sox because of a left triceps strain.
He's also looking for his first win at home since July 19, 2012 - a span of eight starts.
Price returned from a 47-day stint on the disabled list July 2 and dominated the Astros for seven innings, holding them to a pair of hits and striking out 10 while throwing only 70 pitches. Five days later, he's back on the mound to face the White Sox in the final of this three-game series, glad to be pitching on his normal five-day routine.
"It's cool," Price said. "It's good to be back in the routine that I've been on the past couple of years. Everything feels good. We're back to normal."
Price was supposed to be limited to 90 pitches against the Astros but was pulled after seven innings because manager Joe Maddon thought sitting down and warming up seven times was enough stress on Price during his return from the disabled list.
Maddon said Price will be on a 90- to 100-pitch count tonight, but he doesn't want the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner to worry about the number of pitches he's thrown.
"Pretty much go ahead and just pitch and let us just watch how you're pitching and see if it's stressful or not and how you're reacting to it, that sort of thing," Maddon said. "He's not going to go 110 pitches. But if he's getting up to around 100 and looking fresh we might let him do that."
Put me in, skip
Maddon said he planned to give 3B Evan Longoria the day off Saturday, figuring Longoria would need to rest his right foot after returning to his position the night before for the first time in a week.
But Longoria texted Maddon early in the day and said his foot was fine, so Longoria was back at his position for a second straight night. When asked if it was the best text he had ever received, Maddon said, "Yeah, from a player."
Longoria missed three games and served as the designated hitter for three games after tearing the plantar fascia tissue in his right foot on June 28.
"It feels the same as it did (Friday), if not a little bit better," Longoria said before the game. "It's definitely a positive."
Maddon said he expected Longoria to need Saturday off.
"I was really mentally prepared to do something else, and I thought we were going to have to," Maddon said. "I still may. Over the next couple of days I'm going to keep an open mind about all of that, but he was pretty adamant he could play both days."
Maddon joked Friday that Longoria was motivated to return to third base after being lifted for a pinch-runner during Thursday's game. There may have been some truth to that.
"I wasn't too thrilled," Longoria said. "But it is what it is, and I guess it is for the greater good and we ended up winning the game, anyway, so that didn't matter."
With LHP Chris Sale on the mound, Maddon decided Saturday was a good night to give 1B James Loney a day off, despite Loney's .372 average against lefties this season. Sale entered the game holding left-handed batters to a .107 average.
"Give James a little bit of a break," Maddon said. "He's been out there pretty much all the time."
Maddon said Loney will play the remainder of the games during this homestand that leads into the All-Star break.
CF Desmond Jennings is perfect in his last six stolen-base attempts after being thrown out in six of his first 13. . With his sixth-inning single Saturday, RF Wil Myers has hit safely in 16 of his 19 games since being called up June 18. . Saturday was the annual "Turn Back the Clock Night" at the Trop. The White Sox wore their red-pinstripe home uniforms from 1972. The Rays wore the uniforms they wore last season, the light-blue-on-blue uniforms that are supposed to resemble what the Rays might have worn had they been around in the 1970s.