PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As far as Rays ace David Price is concerned, he is ready to return to the rotation. And the left-hander made a convincing argument on Wednesday evening, when he breezed through five innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out eight and walking one for Class A Charlotte in his second rehab start, against Class A Bradenton.
"I put my best foot forward tonight," Price declared with a big smile.
Asked if he plans to lobby manager Joe Maddon to put him back in the rotation, he grinned again and said, "What I did today, that will be my lobbying."
The 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, who has been sidelined since May 16 because of a strain in his left triceps, breezed through the first four innings, striking out eight of the first 14 batters he faced, including all four in the second inning. (One batter reached on a wild pitch.)
Price didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning, when Jose Osuna hit a leadoff single. In total, only four Marauders reached base against Price, who made 72 pitches, 54 for strikes. He threw 15 out of 19 first-pitch strikes and reached 95 mph on the radar gun.
"If that wasn't good enough, I guess I'll have another one of these [rehab starts]," he said, smiling.
Asked if he thinks he needs another outing in the Minors, he said, "I don't think so. Obviously, that's not my decision. I don't know what the plan is. But they've had one for a while. I just take it day by day. I didn't even know how many pitches I was going to throw until this morning.
"It was good to have good results. I felt good. Just getting back into my routine, that was the main thing. This was definitely a step in the right direction."
The Rays will reassess Price's situation on Thursday or Friday and make a decision then. Maddon has said that if Price does not experience any soreness or stiffness, "it's not impossible" that he could return next week, when the Rays are in Houston.
"It'll be awesome to get back," Price said. "I'm tired of missing road trips."
Whenever Price returns, his pitch count may be limited at first. Price didn't tire toward the end of Wednesday's outing and could have gone more than five innings, but, he admitted, he did feel the heat and humidity.
"It was like an oven in the bullpen warming up," he said. "It's humid out here. That takes a lot out of you. It's definitely more humid here than it is in the Trop. But I didn't feel tired whatsoever."
In his first rehab start, also against Bradenton, Price allowed two runs, only one of which was earned, on two hits in 2 1/3 innings, in which he threw 49 pitches. He struck out four and walked two.
So far this year, Price is 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA. He pitched 55 innings before being injured.
Last season, Price, the Rays' No. 1 Draft pick in 2007 and their first 20-game winner, went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA, and he struck out 205 in 211 innings.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com.