If the Tampa Bay Rays were looking for a good indication that David Price is ready to return to the team, they certainly got one Wednesday night.
The 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, on the disabled list since May 15 with a strained left triceps muscle, made his second rehab start with Class A Advanced Charlotte and looked every bit the part of a three-time All-Star.
The 27-year-old left-hander, who was 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA in nine starts for Tampa in the Majors before hitting the DL, scattered just two hits and a walk while striking out eight in five innings as the Stone Crabs beat the Bradenton Marauders, 3-2.
He told MLB.com after the start that he felt pretty pleased with the performance.
"I put my best foot forward tonight," he said. "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."
Charlotte manager Brady Williams said he looked like all was right again.
"He looked like the guy most people are expecting," Williams said. "The command was there, the velocity was there. It was good to see him bounce back from the last outing, get the nerves out. He came out tonight, got ahead of hitters, stayed down in the zone most of the night."
Williams added that, health-wise, there doesn't appear to be any lingering concerns for Price.
"He seemed normal to me, didn't seem like there were any issues. He looked strong throughout his outing and did not look, stuff-wise, like he was fatiguing at all," he said.
In his first rehab start with Charlotte on Friday, Price allowed a pair of runs -- only one of which was earned -- on two hits and two walks while striking out four in 2 1/3 innings.
He admitted after that game that there was a bit of trepidation coming into the outing.
"I wasn't nervous thinking about how I would feel, but I was nervous though because it was the first time I've been out there in six weeks," he said. "My legs were shaking and it felt like my first Spring Training outing or the first game of the year. It was good to have that feeling back because I haven't had it in a long time."
If Price is indeed finished with his rehab, he'll have wrapped up with a 1.23 ERA in the 7 1/3 innings he threw for Charlotte. The first overall pick in the 2007 Draft tossed a bullpen session Sunday at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field.
"If that wasn't good enough, I guess I'll have another one of these [rehab starts]," he told MLB.com. "I don't think [I need another rehab start]. 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."
Williams said whenever a guy of Price's stature comes down for rehab, it's good for his players to get a glimpse of how a professional at the highest level really carries himself.
"It's nice to have a guy like that not just with his ability, but as a person. David is an outstanding individual," he said. "It's nice for him to come down and cut it up with the guys and have fun doing it, and you tell them, 'You're playing behind a Cy Young winner out there, so get after it.'"
The eighth inning of Wednesday's game saw a bit of a scary scene when Charlotte pitching coach Bill Moloney was struck in the forehead by a foul ball while he was standing in the dugout.
"Unfortunately he was talking to one of our pitchers and happened to get struck with a foul ball. He's OK, he's in the hospital right now but it was just precautionary," Williams said. "He was a little dazed, but in good spirits and hopefully everything checks out OK."
Offensively Jake Hager led the Stone Crabs in the win, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.