PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - AL Cy Young Award winner David Price and Evan Longoria had brief, but satisfying spring debuts for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Price pitched one scoreless inning and escaped injury when a groundball glanced off his left wrist, while Longoria successfully tested his surgically-repaired left hamstring on the base paths and had a RBI single during Tuesday's rain-shortened 7-2 victory over a Houston Astros split-squad.
Both players felt good about the way they performed.
``Its' just getting back in a competitive mind-set. That's the first real competitive thing I've done since last year that really meant something,' said Price, who went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 31 starts in 2012 to edge Justin Verlander in the closest Cy Young balloting ever.
``I know this doesn't mean a whole lot, but to me it does,' the 27-year-old left-hander added. ``I told (pitching coach Jim Hickey), it starts today. One scoreless inning, I'm happy with that.'
Longoria missed 85 games last season after partially tearing his hamstring sliding into second base on April 30. The Rays went 41-44 during his absence, compared to 47-27 in the career-low 74 games he started at either third base or as the designated hitter.
Keeping the three-time All-Star healthy figures to be one of the keys to the club's hopes of getting back to the playoffs following a one-year hiatus.
Longoria, who had minor surgery on his hamstring in November, left camp for four days last week to be with his girlfriend for the birth of his baby.
The third baseman played three innings, going 2 for 2. He singled and was thrown out trying to score from second base in the first inning, then delivered his RBI single before scoring from first base on Leslie Anderson's two-run, second-inning triple off Pirates starter Jordan Lyles.
``I definitely got my baserunning in today,' said Longoria, who slid into home plate when he was thrown out trying to score from second on Shelley Duncan's single to left field.
``That's always the way it works. The first day out you get tested. I'm glad I got it out of the way early,' the slugger added. ``I felt great. I don't know how it looks, but it feels 100 percent better than it did at the end of the season last year. And that's all that really matters.'
The 21-year-old Lyles, the youngest starting pitcher in the majors over the past two seasons, allowed six runs and 10 hits over two innings.
The Astros scored twice in the sixth off right-hander Alex Colome. Justin Maxwell's double led to the first run, and Matt Dominguez hit a solo homer for the other.
Lyles, 5-12 with a 5.09 ERA in 25 starts last season, wasn't concerned about the ugly numbers he posted.
``I'm not worried about the results right now,' Lyles said, adding that he felt comfortable on the mound and felt good about the way he threw the ball.
Price was not injured when he instinctively reached for leadoff batter Marwin Gonzalez's grounder back to the mound. Shortstop Ben Zobrist fielded the ball and threw to first for the out.
``It didn't hurt. I'm fine,' Price said.
Yeah, but it wasn't an ideal way to begin a spring training outing.
``Sure it was,' Price said, adding that the wrist didn't require treatment. ``It was an out. That's all that matters.'
NOTES: The game was stopped by heavy rain with the Rays batting in the bottom of the sixth. ... LF Brandon Barnes had Houston's hit off Price, and 1B Chris Carter drew a four-pitch walk. ... Rays closer Fernando Rodney worked one scoreless inning, walking one. ... Tampa Bay's Ryan Roberts homered in the fourth inning off right-hander Edgar Gonzalez.
The Associated Press News Service
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