03/08/08 5:30 PM ET
Price justifies hype in spring debut
After hitting first batter, top Draft pick strikes out side in seventh
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Price, the No. 1 pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, reached a 2-2 count against Francisco Cervelli, the first hitter he faced, before drilling him with pitch No. 5. The stylish left-hander then struck out the next three hitters he faced in order, topping out at 99 mph in the process.
Price went to 2-2 against Shelley Duncan, the second hitter he faced, before Duncan took a called third strike.
"He has an explosive fastball, a sharp, low slider," Duncan said. "He made his pitches. For a young guy, consistency is the biggest issue, and if he can do that all the time, he'll be something special."
Price then retired Jason Lane swinging on three pitches before Wilson Betemit struck out swinging to end the inning.
Eleven of Price's pitches in his Spring Training debut were strikes.
"Not the way I wanted to start my Major League career, hitting the first guy I faced," Price said. "It was just adrenaline out there."
But a nice way to finish his outing.
"Definitely," Price said. "That's the way I wanted to finish right there. It was a lot of fun."
Count Rays manager Joe Maddon among those Price impressed on Saturday.
"The ball was really alive late," Maddon said. "The fastball was jumping late. ... These things were down in the zone, around the knees all day long. He broke off a good slider. ... Kind of an impressive beginning."
Price smiled when asked if he always made pitching look so easy.
"No, but I try to," said Price, explaining that he felt extremely loose.
"It's probably the loosest I've felt in a while," Price said. "I haven't pitched competitively in nine months, so I was very happy to keep my emotions intact, because after strike three and I was running off the field, I was tearing up."
Veteran Brian Anderson smiled when asked about Price.
"If I could take that stuff out there -- Cooperstown, here we come," Anderson said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.