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03/16/09 11:15 PM ET

Delays don't bother effective Price

Lefty waits out long half-innings, showcases improving changeup

BRADENTON, Fla. -- David Price made his second appearance of the spring Monday, and the walks nearly killed him -- only they weren't his walks.

After entering the game to pitch a scoreless fifth inning, Price had to endure an excessively long stint on the bench while his team scored four runs in the top of the sixth on a single and six walks. A pitching change also was included in the marathon half-inning.

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"That was long," said Price, noting that he wasn't really bothered by the lengthy half-inning. "It's the inning you want as a pitcher. Hopefully, they'll do it with a couple of singles and a home run."

Price actually went down to the bullpen during the inning to stay loose.

After the Rays were finally retired in the sixth, Price took the mound and allowed a ground-rule double to Adam LaRoche before striking out Jose Tabata swinging. Craig Monroe then drove a double to deep center field to cut the Rays' lead to 4-3. Price then walked Andy LaRoche before he struck out Jack Wilson and Nyjer Morgan to end the inning.

The Rays drew two walks in the top of the seventh, and the Pirates had a pitching change during yet another long half inning. Price then allowed a single and got a groundout before getting pulled in the bottom of the seventh, finishing his outing after 58 pitches.

"I had good stuff," Price said. "I had real good stuff. I've worked on my changeup so much, my slider's gone away. It's something I'm going to have to get back."

Earlier in the day, Carlos Hernandez and Mitch Talbot were sent to Minor League camp during the Rays' second rounds of spring cuts. The competition for the fifth spot is now down to Price, Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel.

According to Rays manager Joe Maddon, Price did not hurt his chances in the least with Monday night's performance.

"The changeup is getting better," Maddon said. "With David, we were very specific what we wanted to see him do better. ... Overall, the fastball command was pretty good, too. But the changeup is getting a lot better, and that is the one area that we talked about.

"He's the kind of guy, once you lay out the challenge for him, he's going to accept it and do something about it. And I think he has done a nice job with that to this point."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.