Setback could hold David Price out until May
Boston Red Sox LHP David Price hasn’t thrown off a mound since Feb. 28 and could potentially be sidelined until the beginning of May.
The Red Sox pitcher received good news when it turned out that he wouldn’t need surgery to repair his throwing elbow, requiring rest and medication to recover instead. But the damage that has been done has diminished the overall strength of his arm.
At this point, Price is reportedly back to square-one and weaker than he was when he entered camp. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Price hasn’t met the strength benchmarks needed to begin a throwing program or perform any strenuous activity with his left arm.
This isn’t just a matter of regaining strength, the road to recovery is much longer. Price hasn’t been able to throw a baseball, aside from light tossing into a net, since Feb. 28. A recovery program would require that he first meet the strength benchmarks he did when he entered camp, then begin a structured throwing program to build up his durability.
Typically, this would include a methodical intensification of stress on his arm – beginning at 90 feet, then 120, then 180. He would then move to bullpen sessions and finally build up inning counts in a game setting. Only if he’s able to get through those stages without a setback will he be ready to return to the Red Sox.
There’s nothing wrong with taking things slowly, especially in Price’s situation. He’s thrown no fewer than 220.1 innings over the past three years, leading the league twice (248.1 in 2014 and 230 in 2016). Over that stretch, he’s thrown more innings than any other pitcher in baseball. There’s no doubt that the stress he’s put on his arm has contributed to the strained flexor and inflammation he’s dealing with today.
This isn’t what Red Sox fans want to hear, but taking time with Price is a necessity at this point. They seem to have the luxury to do so as well.
There are some legitimate concerns over the depth of the Red Sox rotation, but they should be able to carry the weight for a month or so if Price needs it. Rick Porcello and Chris Sale are still leading the pack and are perfectly healthy. Not to mention that Sale struck out 10 in yesterday’s matchup with the Yankees.
Steven Wright has looked great this spring, while Eduardo Rodriguez looks healthy and ready to build on his late-season success from last year. The club has question marks to be sure, but this won’t derail the season.
As long as the situation doesn’t deteriorate further, all of this will be OK. There’s even the chance that some extra time to prepare and a shorter season could help Price in the playoffs, but I won’t get into that narrative here.
While he can’t resume an aggressive throwing program, he is keeping active according to manager John Farrell as reported by WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
"“He has kept his arm moving,” Farrell said. “He’s incorporated some throwing, he’s incorporated some plyometrics with the arm and movement as you would throwing a baseball. He’s not static or stagnant in terms of the full range of motion used to throw a baseball.”"
Next: What happens if David Price misses significant time?
All that’s left to do is wait it out with David Price. He doesn’t have to throw 200+ innings to be valuable to the Red Sox, he just has to get back to being the pitcher he’s capable of being.