Instead, Price threw an actual baseball.
Eight days after having his stiff left elbow examined by two prominent orthopedic surgeons, Price made 25 light throws against a net in the batting cage, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell, who termed the unexpected session "a positive step."
But before anyone gets too excited, the team doesn't have a timetable for when Price will be ready to pitch, with the first few weeks of the season still looking unlikely.
"We're still a ways from getting him off a mound," Farrell said.
Price didn't make himself available for comment.
Since he rejoined the Red Sox after seeing Drs. James Andrews and Neal ElAttrache on March 3 in Indianapolis, Price has been taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling in his elbow. With the range of motion returning to his arm, he was cleared Friday to initiate a plyometric training program and other strengthening exercises.
"As good as he feels, [the Red Sox decided], let's put a ball in his hand and throw lightly," Farrell said. "All of the early phase of throwing are going to be short, controlled effort and energy. We're not even mapping out distances right now. We're more interested in seeing how his arm responds to even the light throwing."
Price had not yet made a spring-training start when he reported discomfort in his elbow after two simulated innings on Feb. 28. Farrell insisted the setback doesn't push Price all the way back to the beginning of spring training, but with only about three weeks until Opening Day, it's doubtful the former Cy Young Award winner will be ready to begin the season on time.
"I'm not really focused on any kind of timeline," Farrell said. "He's going to be out there when he's ready, first available. There's still work to do. The biggest key for us is when he gets to the point of aggressive long-toss and getting on the mound. That's where the more extension to the arm is going to come into play. That will be a big phase in the return.
"He's been progressing here since the day he came in sore. The range of motion, the freeness to the movement is all positive. Granted, we recognize we're at the early stages right now, but it's a good day for David."