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David Price pitches scoreless inning in 2021 spring debut, in relief

Price: “Whatever makes the 2021 Dodgers better, I’m all for it.”

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The battle of Camelback Ranch was afoot on Monday, the first of two battles between the Dodgers and White Sox this spring. The Dodgers were the home team on Monday, and David Price made his 2021 debut. In a new role.

“I’m just looking for him to throw strikes,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s been a while since he’s faced somebody in a different uniform.”

Price’s last game was one year ago Sunday, striking out seven in three scoreless innings against Colorado at Camelback Ranch.

Price didn’t start on Monday, but instead followed Julio Urías, who pitched three perfect innings in his second outing of the Cactus League. Price pitched a perfect fourth inning, striking out Luis Robert, and totaled 11 pitches.

“It’s a little bit different than starting, but the mound is still 60 feet, six inches,” Price said after his outing. “My job doesn’t change. Just go out there and get guys out, and be ready for whatever.”

Given the relatively late start to game action for Price this spring, and that he only pitched one inning Monday, it’s unlikely he would be ready to pitch deep into games at the start of the regular season. Price estimated he would pitch five times during spring training, and be able to throw 90 pitches or so in his first regular season game if needed.

That doesn’t necessarily count him out of the starting rotation from the get go, but he’s not guaranteed a rotation spot, either.

“Whether you’re starting or coming out of the pen, the build up is important. But what the build up looks like, there’s no certain number that warrants somebody starting a major league game,” Roberts said. “I can see him pitching in any role we have for him. David, being the pro and teammate that he is, also voiced that. Whatever role that we see is best for the Dodgers in 2021, that’s what he wants to do. That’s a credit to him.”

Roberts said at times this spring he’s open to carrying more than five starting pitchers to begin the season, a decision perhaps made easier that no minor league season starts until May. That means Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and non-roster invitee Jimmy Nelson could make the team even if not starting, with the need to fill innings in any way possible paramount.

“It’s just being able to identify how much talent we have on this team from our starters. Young guys, especially Gonzo, D-May, and Julio, those guys are next level,” Price said. “Right before we signed Trevor [Bauer], I reached out to Andrew [Friedman] and said, ‘Whatever happens, I’m willing to do whatever you guys need me to do. That’s not a problem for me, so just keep me in the loop and let me know.’”

Price has started 311 of his 321 career regular season games, with four of his 10 relief appearances coming in his first stint in the majors in 2008. Price has pitched nine times in relief in the postseason, compared to 14 starts.

“I told them whatever they need me to do, whatever makes the 2021 Dodgers better, I’m all for it,” Price said.

Pregame notes

Also slated to pitch in Monday’s seven-inning game are non-roster pitchers James Pazos, Enny Romero, and Nick Robertson. Bobby Miller and Jose Martinez are also listed as available to pitch. If Martinez gets into the game it would be his first appearance this spring.

Right-hander Mike Wright starts for the White Sox.

Mookie Betts and Corey Seager are playing their fourth game in five days, and Justin Turner is starting his third game in four days, as we are nearing the “two days on, one day off” phase of spring. Not quite for everyone just yet, as A.J. Pollock and Edwin Ríos have yet to play on consecutive days. Neither starting catcher has played on consecutive days yet, with Austin Barnes getting the call behind the plate to start Monday’s game.

These two teams will play again on St. Patrick’s Day, with Chicago acting as the home team on that day.

Game info

Teams: Dodgers vs. White Sox

Location: Camelback Ranch

Time: 12:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA