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Price skips 'pen session, feels ahead of schedule

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- David Price caught everybody's attention Wednesday morning when he did not throw his bullpen session as scheduled.

No worries. The ace was simply exercising an option extended by pitching coach Jim Hickey to all of the Rays' hurlers.

According to the smiling Price: "This is what they told us on Day 1, 'We have three bullpens in six days, and if you want to take one of those bullpens off, you don't have to throw all three.'"

Nothing is wrong with Price. In fact, his health is in good shape as is his pitching.

"I feel really good with where I'm at right now," Price said. "My first two bullpens were really good. And I don't feel like I've been this far along in Spring Training, probably since back in 2008."

Price said his next bullpen will be Saturday during a live batting-practice session.

"Every pitch for me stems off fastball," Price said. "Right now I don't feel like I've missed a whole lot of spots in my bullpens with my fastball. My breaking stuff has been extremely good, as well. But if I can find that release point early on with my fastball, especially as I have right now, it makes [the breaking stuff] easy. ... I'm ahead of where I've been the last three Spring Trainings."

When asked about Price, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was fine with the lefty exercising the option extended by Hickey.

"Hick told them all they could throw two out of three times, and that's what he decided to do," said Maddon, noting that only a veteran would be confident enough to take advantage of Hickey's option.

"Know yourself and what you think you need," said Maddon, adding: "Know when to back off and reserve and preserve."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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