FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox left-hander David Price threw nearly his full repertoire of pitches in his outing on Saturday — fastball, cutter and changeup. Everything except a curveball.
That was reserved for Mother Nature.
Price was scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins. But with rain in the forecast for the afternoon, he was scratched from his start, opting to pitch in a simulated four-inning game in the morning in a bullpen way at the back of the spring training complex.
“We got to keep him healthy,” manager Alex Cora said. “Obviously, we wanted him to be there and just start feeling the flow of the games, but it’s going to be the next one.”
The Boston-Minnesota game, in fact, started late and was rained out.
Price, who said he threw a total of 90 pitches in his session, including 30 warmup pitches, was pleased with his outing.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Today was my best day for everything. Strength all the way through, executing pitches. You guys missed out. It was good.”
Price threw to catcher Christian Vazquez while pitching coach Dana LeVangie looked on.
“We gave him the option of pitching in a minor league setting and/or do it in the bullpen and work on all his stuff and he chose,” LeVangie said. “I felt like it was just as good for him to do that, as well, in a bullpen session.”
“He was happy the way he felt throwing his changeup, throwing his cutter, two-seamer to both sides … I thought it was a great day for him,” he said.
LeVangie occasionally stepped into the batter’s box during Price’s session, calling out the names of opponents so Price could pitch to a game plan.
“He was (the Yankees’ Brett) Gardner and (Aaron) Judge,” Price said. “He’d stand in the box like they stand, whether they’re close to the plate or far away and go from there.”
“It was good because a lot of guys are different when they’re in the box and, whether they’re close in or far away, it’s kind of get that feel again,” he said.
The 32-year-old Price is entering the third year of a seven-year, $217 million contract. He could opt out after this season.
The Red Sox have been bringing Price and left-hander Chris Sale along slowly this spring, monitoring their workloads in an attempt to keep them healthy throughout the regular season. An elbow injury last season limited Price to 11 starts, a career low for a full season, and he went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA.
Price wound up as a reliever for the AL East champions in the playoffs.
“Overall, a great day, 60 pitches, four up-and-downs and he felt great, so that’s important,” Cora said. “He’s right on track now.”
Price is now scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday or Friday. He could still make three spring training starts.
“We’re not looking to build David up to 120 pitches, nine innings in spring training,” LeVangie said. “We got three more starts. We’ll build him up in the right way that he’s ready to go and ready to pitch to open the season.”