ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - It's difficult to envision the Tampa Bay Rays playing deep into October without a healthy David Price.
The struggling AL Cy Young winner was put on the disabled list for the first time in his career Thursday, hours after the ace of one of baseball's best rotations felt tightness in the back of his pitching arm and was diagnosed as having a strained left triceps.
The Rays would not speculate on when the 27-year-old lefty will return, but did stress that the injury is not expected to pose a long-term problem.
"They're not overly concerned. The doctors just felt it was wise to calm it down right now," manager Joe Maddon said before the series finale against the Boston Red Sox. "Our biggest concern ... is take your time with it so it doesn't pop back up. We have that in mind with everybody. With David, we'll utilize that same philosophy. I don't think, and we don't think, it's going to be an extended period of time."
Maddon said Price, who left Wednesday night's start against Boston in the third inning, could miss two, maybe three starts if necessary.
"If that happens I'm fine with it," the manager said. "We have plans of playing in October. We're not getting there without him. So if it takes an extra start to make sure he's well, that's what we'll do."
Price, who allowed four runs in 2 1-3 innings in his latest start, is 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA after going 20-5 with a 2.56 in 2012. The Rays have lost seven of his nine starts after going 21-10 in his 31 starts last year.
The three-time All-Star, who underwent a MRI exam, said he felt better Thursday. He expects to be able to pitch again in a couple of weeks.
"It's new territory for me, I've never really had any arm troubles," he said. "I missed a start last year with my shoulder, but that was all done in the weight room and that went away. It's frustrating. I think even more so frustrating because I'm throwing the ball as bad as I am. It's rough."
Price reiterated he didn't feel anything wrong in his arm until four or five pitches during the third inning on Wednesday night.
"I felt it get tight," the lefty said. "After it happened the first couple times, I didn't think it was going away."
Maddon said a decision had yet to made on who will make Price's next scheduled start Monday in Toronto. Among the options are right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer, as well as Alex Torres, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill the roster opening.
It's the second straight year one of Tampa Bay's best players has gone down with an early-season injury.
Three-time All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria was sidelined three months with a partially torn left hamstring last season. He's confident the team can remain afloat while Price is out.
"I think we're very fortunate with the outcome of it. With pitchers' arms, you never know how bad it can be," Longoria said. "It's a pretty good break with the results of the testing."
Longoria and Maddon both were encouraged that Price appeared to be in good spirits.
"Just seeing him, he looks optimistic. ... David is a Cy Young winner. There's really nobody who can walk in and fill his shoes," Longoria said. "He'll be missed definitely, but hopefully it's only for the short term."
"I really anticipate more of a normal DL stint. If there's any extra length to it, it should be minimal. I really got a good vibe talking to him today. I thought he felt pretty good," the manager said. " I think it's going to be fine."