David Price avoids rain, throws five scoreless innings vs. minor leaguers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Getting rained out wasn't an option for David Price.

With the Boston Red Sox poised to open the season 15 days from now in Cleveland, Price needed to pitch Sunday in order to stay on track to be the Opening Day starter. And so, with rain in the forecast in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the Sox were scheduled to face the New York Mets, the ace left-hander stayed behind at the player-development complex and faced 23 minor-league batters in a camp game.

Mission accomplished.

"Got it in," Price said after tossing five scoreless innings in which he allowed six hits, struck out eight and didn't issue a walk. "Got the pitch count into the 70s. My first two outings in the games I was in the low 50s. To amp it up 25 more pitches, that's good. Responded well."

OK, so it wasn't quite the same as facing Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes in a packed ballpark, but the Sox put together an opposing lineup for Price that featured top prospects Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers, and the scrimmage drew the attention of minor-league players, team officials and a smattering of fans to a back field behind JetBlue Park.

Price described his location and command as "pretty good," but the most important part, he said, was building enough arm strength to get through five innings. He likely will throw at least 90 pitches in his next start, which should prepare him for April 4 against the Indians.

Otherwise, Price said he was impressed with Moncada's approach at the plate. The switch-hitting 20-year-old infield prospect flew out to the warning track in right field in the first inning, but later shot a single the other way through the right side of the infield. Moncada singled up the middle in his last at-bat and finished 2-for-3.

"His last at-bat, to me that was very impressive," Price said. "After I came in 0-1 with a really good front-door two-seam [fastball], he took it and kind of [nodded] his head, and then I went back away with a backdoor cutter. I feel like a lot of young guys who be sitting on that fastball in again, and he didn't do that. He took the ball up the middle of the field. There's a lot of hits up the middle if you keep the ball there. That was pretty impressive."