Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price aims to return to form now that his elbow is healthy enough to return to his role in the starting rotation.
The last time we saw David Price he was spinning four brilliant innings out of the Boston Red Sox bullpen in Game 3 of the ALDS. The lefty dominated a deep Houston Astros lineup, showing impeccable control of his pitches and restored velocity that confirmed he has returned to form.
As spring training approaches, the next step for Price is a transition back to his familiar role in the starting rotation. While he was deemed healthy enough to contribute down the stretch last season, there simply wasn’t time following his September return from the disabled list to build up to a starter’s workload.
The veteran pitcher is already working out at the Red Sox spring facility in Fort Myers. According to the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, Price says his elbow feels fine and he’s eager to reclaim a spot in the rotation.
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Price’s first two seasons since signing a $217 million mega-deal with the Red Sox haven’t exactly gone smoothly. He won 17 games and led the majors in innings pitched in 2016. Most would call that a success, yet a rocky start marred his overall numbers and created the perception that he underperformed despite pitching at an ace level for most of the season. His numbers improved a bit last season but he missed about half the year with an elbow issue.
Several outbursts with the media, including an infamous confrontation with Dennis Eckersley last season, have also soured Price’s reputation in Boston. The off-field drama has led many to believe that he can’t handle the pressure of pitching in a tough media market. Combine that with the backlash from an unforgiving fan base and we get the feeling that Price may not want to be here anymore.
An opt-out clause in his contract could allow Price to escape after the 2018 season but he claims he’s not thinking about that. Price insists that he came to Boston to win. The Red Sox have won consecutive division titles in his time here but he’s aware that simply making the playoffs is never enough in this town. The goal is to win a title and Price intends to be a part of that.
There’s no damage to Price’s reputation that winning can’t fix. If he performs well to help the Red Sox find success on the postseason stage then he’ll earn back the respect of the fans. That would certainly ease the pressure he’s been under, while a strong performance would leave the media with less to criticize him for, thereby reducing the risk of further drama on that front.
On the other hand, a stellar season would also restore his market value, perhaps giving him more incentive to opt-out to seek a more lucrative deal. That seems unlikely given the ice-cold free agent market we’ve seen this winter but a lot can change in a year.
Regardless of what the future holds for Price, it’s encouraging to hear he’s taking the right mindset. He’s determined to prove he can still be an elite starter and focused on winning games for the Red Sox.