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Rays 11, Blue Jays 4

Rays 11, Blue Jays 4
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - David Price turned in a scoreless spring training debut, flashing the lively left arm that made him a postseason star last year.

The Tampa Bay Rays think he has more work to do.

Price, the team's top pitching prospect, threw a pair of shutout innings in relief and Pat Burrell hit a grand slam for his first Tampa Bay homer during the Rays' 11-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Price, a hard-throwing lefty, walked the leadoff batter in each inning but did not allow a hit and finished with three strikeouts.

"It felt good to finally be out there," Price said. "It went all right. I can't complain. I kept zeros on the scoreboard, so that's what you're going after."

Price, the first pick in the 2007 draft, reached the big leagues last September and helped pitch the Rays to the World Series by recording a win and a save against the Red Sox in the AL championship series. While he worked out of the bullpen during the postseason, his future with the Rays will be as a starting pitcher.

How far off in the future is the question.

Price is one of four candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, but Rays manager Joe Maddon has hinted that Price will start the season at Triple-A Durham, where he can work on his fastball command, develop his changeup and get more experience as a starter.

Price started 19 games in the minors last season while climbing from Class-A to Triple-A. He threw 109 2-3 innings before his promotion to the Rays and only 19 2-3 innings after that.

"We still consider him in the developmental process where as a lot of people, I think, see him as the finished product," Maddon said. "That's where the confusion lies from the outside looking in, and I understand that. I get it. I totally get it, because if you're watching the playoffs last year you see him as the finished product. If he doesn't make it out of camp as the fifth starter we see that as OK, because we have these other things we think he needs to work on."

Also making their spring debuts for the Rays on Tuesday were Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine, the No. 3 and 4 starters, respectively, in the rotation.

Garza, the ALCS MVP, started and allowed three hits and three runs in two innings. He was hurt on two drives that center fielder Fernando Perez couldn't come up with.

Perez injured his wrist while diving for the second shot in the first inning and left the game. He was examined by doctors in Port Charlotte.

Rays vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he wouldn't discuss the extent of the injury until team doctors had a chance to examine Perez. Friedman said he expects Perez to miss at least a week.

Sonnanstine worked a perfect fifth inning.

Blue Jays starter Matt Clement, still trying to return to the major leagues after surgery on his right shoulder in 2006, allowed two runs in the first inning but settled down to throw three scoreless innings after that.

"I had to work. Today was a big step," Clement said. "I feel I'm getting stronger and stronger each time out."

Travis Snider had a two-run double and Curtis Thigpen hit his first home run of the spring for Toronto.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 11, 2009

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