David Price dominates in spring intro to Red Sox-Yankees rivalry

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was the kind of outing that would compel the Boston Red Sox to place David Price's left arm in bubble wrap until Opening Day.

Under the lights and facing a bare-bones New York Yankees lineup that nevertheless still included Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Price was nearly flawless, filling up the strike zone and allowing little more than a solo home run to Aaron Hicks over four innings.

"Same old David Price," Rodriguez said of the new, $217 million bauble in the age-old Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. "He's always tough, he's always fun to face, very predictable, comes right at you every time."

Price certainly came after Rodriguez, catching him staring at a third strike in both of their matchups. Price struck out six batters overall, didn't issue a walk and threw 40 of his 54 pitches for strikes in a 6-3 Yankees victory.

Despite mixing in a few changeups and cutters, Price primarily worked on his fastball, which is typical for his third spring-training start.

"It's part of the process, continuing to go out there, command my fastball the way that I did today," Price said. "If I can do that, it just opens up everything that I want to do with all my secondary stuff. That's always a big emphasis on me, just making sure I'm hitting spots with that fastball -- two-seam, four-seam, both sides of the plate, moving it in, up, down."

The Red Sox could've opted to hide Price from the Yankees by having him start a simulated game. But considering he has spent the majority of his career in the American League East with the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, there aren't many secrets anymore.

Rodriguez joked about the strangeness of seeing Price wearing Manny Ramirez's old No. 24. And although Price said he expects the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry to be "intense" and "the biggest rivalry I've ever been a part of," he also doesn't seem awed by the place he's about to occupy within it.

"I'm going to take the same attitude and the same mindset, whether I'm pitching on the back field against a High-A or Double-A team or whatever it is," Price said. "I want to go out there and throw the ball the way I'm capable of throwing it. The front of the jersey or the name on the back of the jersey, that doesn't affect the way I'll throw the baseball."

Hanley lends a hand: Novice first baseman Hanley Ramirez made a nice play in the fourth inning by coming off the bag to snare a high throw from third baseman Pablo Sandoval, then applying a tag to the Yankees' Robert Refsnyder. The play came one day after he saved Sandoval another error by scooping a low throw.

Asked which play he liked better, Ramirez smiled and said, "Both. Outs."

"My infielders are comfortable. That's my goal," Ramirez said. "All my fielders, comfortable. It's not about me. It's about them. You've got Hanley at first. Don't you worry about anything. Just throw it in this area right here, and I've got you."

This and that: New closer Craig Kimbrel and setup men Junichi Tazawa and Carson Smith made quick work of the Yankees, retiring all nine batters they faced, four by strikeout. The Yanks finally broke through against lefty Robbie Ross Jr. with two runs in the eighth inning. ... First base prospect Sam Travis notched two more hits, including an RBI double, and is 10-for-18 this spring. ... The Sox optioned outfielder Bryce Brentz, infielder Sean Coyle, right-hander Pat Light and lefty Edwin Escobar to Triple-A Pawtucket. Left-hander Williams Jerez was optioned to Double-A Portland, while third baseman Chris Dominguez and catcher Ali Solis were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Injury updates: Left-hander Brian Johnson (sprained left big toe) reported improvement but will miss at least his next appearance.

On deck: The Red Sox will make the six-mile trip up Daniels Parkway to Hammond Stadium to face the Twins at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Right-hander Clay Buchholz will oppose Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson. Setup man Koji Uehara also is scheduled to pitch for the Red Sox.