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2) Price is a leader
You’ve probably heard this before, but Price is an ace on the mound and in the clubhouse, he leads the rotation and bonds with his colleagues on a level that is all but unrivalled. Never mind that he bought his Toronto teammates scooters, his then GM Alex Anthopoulos described him as the best team player he’d seen, as reported by WEEI’s Rob Bradford:
"“You hear about how he’s a great guy, good teammate. You hear that a lot about certain players, and it’s mostly guys who can change a clubhouse and a culture. But David Price was one of the guys that if you talk to people in that clubhouse… We already had a good clubhouse, but he took it to a whole different level. He’s probably the best teammate I’ve ever seen. I haven’t been in the game that long, but everyone else who has been around him has said he’s the best they’ve ever seen. “Look, he’s got front-line stuff. But he’s legitimately a great teammate. His work ethic is off the charts and he makes everybody else on the team a lot better. He brings something else more than just the two ERA and the 240 innings and everything else. He leads. He sets a great example. He’ll be a great get for any team that gets him.”"
Price is endlessly positive, gung-ho and fired up. It’s contagious. His introduction to the Blue Jays rotation not only nearly guaranteed victory at least every 5 games but raised their spirits and they rode the crest of that wave from a .500 club all the way to the offseason. Price’s introduction to the Boston clubhouse will be a major game changer for the morale of a team that has languished in last place for two years on the trot.
But that’s not all, Price is a teacher and guide. One of the best at what he does, he goes to lengths to support and encourage the other pitchers on his team. He is widely credited, by no less than Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer, as being the catalyst for his breakthrough and success. Marcus Stroman has said much the same thing.
Imagine the influence that this will have on young, impressionable pitchers such as Eduardo Rodriguez. Learning from Price, a fellow leftie, having him guide his bullpens and critique his form, could help shape Rodriguez into being the top of the line pitcher many feel he could be. Henry Owens too, would likely be influenced having one of the best in the business on the squad as he seeks to make the jump from AAA to the show full time. Ditto for Joe Kelly.
As for the rest of the pitching staff, the upgrade is equally as significant. Clay Buchholz has ace stuff but is as fragile and low on stamina as I am. With Price leading the way, Buchholz can settle back into doing what he does best: being silently brilliant. He will shine when he’s on the mound and when he’s no longer able to take it, he can rest assured the Sox will still have their number one out soaking up innings and giving the offense their best chance to win. The pressure is off and not just for Buchholz.
Rick Porcello, Price’s former teammate from Detroit, left the shadow of Price, Scherzer and Justin Verlander, came to Boston and felt the heat. The pressure on Porcello to perform, especially as he was extended without even throwing a pitch, weighed heavily on him and he imploded spectacularly. Several phantom injuries later, Porcello finishes the season on a good note providing hope for the following year. Now that Price is around, there’ll be no more of this “he’s the ace” t-shirt nonsense. Back under Price, Porcello can pitch the way he knows best, with his sinker, without worrying about playing up to cover for the lack of a number 1 at Fenway.
And, in case you thought only pitchers would benefit from having Price around, think again. He is some 68-1 when given at least 5 runs of support in his career, after all. Xander Bogaerts, as reported by Ian Browne of MLB.com, had this to say:
"“My brother told me about it. I was definitely excited to get that news. He’s a great pitcher, I can tell you that for sure. I’m just happy not to face him anymore. I’m happy he’s on our side now. There weren’t too many easy at-bats or hits I had against him. He’s very tough, especially with that cutter. He throws that backdoor cutter and he throws it inside and jams you sometimes.”"
So there it is, Price is a leader, a gamer, an all round competitor and exactly what Boston needs. And then there’s his performance on the mound.
Next: His performance