Red Sox pitcher David Price impressive in first spring start

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: David Price
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: David Price /

Left-handed pitcher David Price was impressive in tossing four scoreless innings in his first start of the spring for the Boston Red Sox.

How David Price responds to returning to the starting rotation for the first time since July is one of the most pressing questions facing the Boston Red Sox this spring. Based on the latest sample, the transition appears to be going seamlessly.

Price tossed four scoreless innings on Thursday in his first Grapefruit League start of the spring. He allowed a hit, a walk and struck out five.

His fastball registered in the 91-93 mph range. A bit below what he’s used to, although that’s not unusual at this stage. Pitchers need to work through a few starts in order to ramp up their velocity and workload heading into the season. Location is more important than the velocity at this point and Price showed the ability to command the strike zone with his fastball while mixing in his curveball.

Price struck out the first batter of the game on three pitches, catching Aledmys Diaz looking for the third strike. He quickly put away the next two batters to retire the side in order.

The first (and only) sign of trouble came in the second inning when Price allowed a leadoff single to be followed by a walk. A sacrifice bunt put the pair of runners in scoring position with only one out. Price struck out the next hitter on a cutter, then Andrew Benintendi ended the inning by spearing a hard line drive to left.

Those would be the only batters to reach base against Price this afternoon. He retired the side in order in the third, picking up another strikeout along the way. He came back to strike out the first two batters in the fourth. Price’s outing concluded with a warning track fly out to center field to end the inning.

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Price threw 55 pitches, 34 of which were for strikes. Eight of those were swinging strikes.

The veteran southpaw was expected to make his spring debut last weekend, only for the threat of rain to force him to pivot to a morning bullpen session instead. That leaves time for two more starts this spring.

The schedule lines up for Price to start the second game of the season on Friday, March 30. That would also put him on track to start the home opener at Fenway Park on Thursday, April 5.

Price spent the majority of the second half of last season on the disabled list. His last major league start was back on July 22. He returned in September in a bullpen role, logging 8 2/3 scoreless innings. He would add 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the ALDS against the Houston Astros.

The $217 million man hasn’t lived up to his contract in a Red Sox uniform yet. However, there are reasons for optimism that he’ll turn it around this year. Not the least of which is the incentive to perform with an opt-out clause and potential for another big payday dangling in front of him.

Next: Predicting the Red Sox Opening Day roster

He still has a lot to prove but Price’s early returns this spring show he’s on the right path.