Panda-Price matchup highlights BP

Hitting right-handed, Panda laces first pitch to warning track

Panda-Price matchup highlights BP

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The batting practice that takes place between teammates during Spring Training generally favors the pitcher. In fact, some hitters go up there simply to track pitches.

But on Thursday, Pablo Sandoval was ready to go when he faced new Red Sox ace David Price.

Sandoval, batting right-handed, stuck his bat out on the first pitch he saw from a Major League pitcher since last September and belted it to the warning track in left.

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"I think that caught everybody by surprise," said Mookie Betts, who also hit off Price. "But that's what Pablo does, too. He's ready to go."

The Price-Sandoval matchup on Field 3 was intriguing to watch for a couple of reasons.

The first is that it marked Price's first live BP session with the Red Sox. The second is that Sandoval is determined to regain his swing from the right side this season.

Sandoval stopped switch-hitting entirely last May after getting off to a 2-for-41 start righty.

Earlier this week, Sandoval said that he spent a large part of his offseason working on his right-handed swing.

"Whether it's BP or in games, he's an aggressive hitter," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "To me, when Pablo is swinging aggressively, it's when he feels good physically, and I think that's the case here today."

The first-pitch swing by Sandoval also got Price's competitive juices flowing a little more.

"Oh yeah, definitely," said Blake Swihart, who caught Price. "That's what we do in this sport. We compete. All of us have a competitive nature. I'm sure that first swing, he was like, 'All right, I'm going to focus a little more.' It was good."

Price went with a fastball-changeup combination while facing Sandoval, Betts and Dan Butler.

"He looked fine," Farrell said of Price. "His first day of live BP, it was a normal progression toward the beginning of games next week. Not just David, but I think our pitchers have thrown the ball very well when you look at the stuff they're throwing including the command that they're showing in the full side sessions and now into BP. It was another positive day."

The session also gave Swihart a chance to gain more familiarity with Price.

"He looked really good. He was out there fastball-changeup hitting the spots, commanding the changeup," said Swihart. "It's the start of everything. Today was the start and when we were walking over, he said, 'Let's go.' It's a good first day. I think everybody saw what he can do -- painting the corners and everything -- so it was good."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.