Tigers’ Fister sharp, Rays’ Price injures neck

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — David Price felt fine on the mound — his activity off it was the problem.

Price left Tampa Bay Rays’ 8-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Thursday with minor neck spasms sustained while he was drying his neck with a towel between innings.

“It’s happened to me two times before,” Price explained. “The towel just catches the back of my head and it pulls my neck forward. I just felt it a little bit in back of my neck and just wanted to be cautious with it.”

Price gave up two scoreless innings for the Rays in his second spring start, giving up three hits with a walk and a strikeout. He was slated to pitch a third inning.

Price and Rays manager Joe Maddon said it won’t be a setback and that Price should be fine within a few days.

“I felt all right,” Price said of his outing. “That’s the best I’ve felt all spring training, body-wise, arm-wise. I didn’t feel any soreness, any stiffness anywhere, so that was good.”

Doug Fister was sharp for the Tigers, pitching three scoreless innings, Delmon Young hit a three-run homer and Miguel Cabrera added three big hits for the Tigers.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland credits the early offensive prowess to the amount of batting practice against pitchers they saw early in camp.

“That makes a difference,” Leyland said.

Young, who took Rays reliever Cesar Ramos deep in the third inning, said that while the team is feeding off of Prince Fielder and Cabrera, pitchers aren’t using their full assortment of pitches yet.

“You could see with Price and (Jeremy) Hellickson, they’re just throwing fastballs right now,” said Young. “They weren’t mixing their breaking balls or anything. Then when the season comes around and they start mixing it up and when the lights come on, then you see the real hitters.”

Cabrera barely missed a home run with one out in the top of the third inning when he launched a ball off the top of the left-center field wall.

“That’s OK,” Cabrera said. “Big doubles.”

The slugger went on to steal third base on his own before Young homered.

The Rays, still without Evan Longoria and Luke Scott, only mustered three hits.

“They’re a pretty good ballclub and we didn’t have any offensive momentum to keep us in the game,” Maddon said. “We didn’t hit. They hit.”

Hellickson pitched two innings for the Rays, giving up three runs on four hits and striking out two. The right-hander was sharp in the fifth inning but was roughed around by the Tigers in the sixth.

The reigning AL Rookie of the Year said he was more worried about throwing strikes and working on his pitches than the results.

“It’s nice to go out there and do a little better than I did, but I felt good,” Hellickson said of his outing.

NOTES: Rays 3B Evan Longoria (hand) took swings in a batting cage Thursday, but must take batting practice a few more times before playing in a game. … Rays LF Sam Fuld (wrist) will play Friday. … Rays DH Scott (shoulder) will not play Friday. … Rays LHP Matt Moore (lower abdominal strain) threw batting practice to Scott and Fuld and will pitch Tuesday. … Tigers SS Ramon Santiago had three hits on Thursday. … Cabrera said he’s not worried about the lack of groundballs hit his way thus far.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.