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Rainy weather shifts Price to simulated game

Lefty, originally set to start Saturday, gets in his work in the bullpen
Special to MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Price was supposed to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday against the Twins. Instead, he threw in a bullpen in the back of the Red Sox's Spring Training complex while left-hander Jalen Beeks got the start instead.

With rain in the forecast for the afternoon, manager Alex Cora decided that would be the best course of action.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Price was supposed to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday against the Twins. Instead, he threw in a bullpen in the back of the Red Sox's Spring Training complex while left-hander Jalen Beeks got the start instead.

With rain in the forecast for the afternoon, manager Alex Cora decided that would be the best course of action.

"It is what it is," Cora said on Saturday morning. "[We've] got to keep [Price] healthy. We can't know what's going to happen [with the weather]. It's been switching the whole day. So [we've] got to make sure he gets his repetitions and go from there. The way they're throwing in the controlled games or the up and downs, to simulated games, they're throwing with conviction, with purpose. And that's what we want. 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 Red Sox are bringing Price and left-hander Chris Sale along slowly this spring -- monitoring their workloads, hoping to keep them stronger throughout the season. But Price was also limited by an elbow injury to just 11 starts last season.

Price worked with catcher Christian Vazquez with pitching coach Dana LeVangie looking on -- and LeVangie stepping in as certain batters. He threw four simulated innings.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"We gave him the option of pitching in a Minor League setting and/or [doing] it in the bullpen and work on all his stuff -- and he chose [the bullpen session]," 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. It was a pretty good day."

Price said he threw a total of 90 pitches in his session -- including 30 warmup pitches -- utilizing his fastball, cutter and changeup, while holding off on the curveball. He was pleased with his outing.

Video: IT: What can Boston expect from David Price in '18?

"Absolutely," Price said. "Today was my best day for everything. Strength all the way through, executing pitches. You guys missed out. It was good.

"Honestly, I feel like the biggest thing I think Spring Training [is important for] is getting those ups and downs. I already threw 55-60-pitch bullpens all the way through with no stopping. To be able to do that, you know your arm strength is there. To be able to go out and throw 30 pitches and then sit and then throw eight warmup pitches, [then] 15 pitches -- and to be able to do that four times and not hold anything back, even in my warmup pitches in my last inning, it's a very good sign."

Price was pleased with his repertoire.

"Everything," Price said. "Quality of stuff. Threw fastball, changeup and cutter today. Having strength through the entire bullpen, even my eight warmup pitches. After I sat for eight minutes after an inning, to be able to stand back up, grab the ball and throw it and not having to ease into it or anything like that. I felt really strong the entire time.

"Dana stood in all four innings, both right- and left-handed, and called out [names of] hitters. We worked through different situations with different hitters. I guess it's my second time having somebody stand in. I guess five days ago was my first time I had a hitter. It is a different view when somebody's standing in that box. To be able to get that work today and get that feedback from Dana and Vazky as we go through. It was a very good day.

"[LeVangie] was [Brett] Gardner and [Aaron] Judge. We'd face Judge and then he'd switch around and he'd be Brett Gardner. He'd stand in the box like they stand -- whether they're close to the plate or far away -- and go from there."

Price could still make three Spring Training starts, possibly beginning on Thursday against the Blue Jays -- although with an off-day on Tuesday, he could be pushed back to Friday against the Twins. LeVangie is satisfied that Price will get enough work to be ready for the season.

"Yeah, we're not looking to build David up to 120 pitches, nine innings in Spring Training," LeVangie said. "[We've] got three more starts. We'll build him up in the right way, [so] that he's ready to go and ready to pitch to open the season."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Red Sox on Saturday.

Boston Red Sox, David Price