Price: Let’s try this againBy TIM BRITTON
The Providence Journal, R.I.
February 13. 2018 11:52PM
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price is ready for a fresh start.
A fresh start from the elbow issues that plagued him throughout 2017. A fresh start from the negativity he engendered in the clubhouse. A fresh start from two years of subpar results.
Price on Tuesday wanted to start anew. He was apologetic about the way 2017 went, though only to a point. He admitted to mistakes, to not being the leader he believes himself capable of being.
“I could have handled it better last year, absolutely. But I didn’t, and I’ve moved on,” Price said. “I feel like I’ve always been one to lead with my actions, and I didn’t do that very well last year. I know that and understand that and I look forward to getting back and being that faucet and not being a drain.”
This was neither Josh Beckett’s stubborn defiance nor Jon Lester’s sincere contrition from back in 2012. Price’s confessions of fault did not overwhelm in their earnestness. He sounded a bit like the truant student apologizing to the principal and promising never to cut class again.
Of course, there was almost nothing Price could have said that would have earned unambiguous plaudits from the media he sparred with for much of last season. And Price is right when he says that his performance on the field will go further toward rectifying his reputation in New England than anything else. How he treats the media is more or less incidental and matters little with the fan base.
The issue last year was when his frustration boiled over to envelop his teammates and his coaching staff. If one of the knocks against John Farrell was his inability to limit in-house fires, his and Price’s seemingly flammable relationship was not good for the team.
On Tuesday, Price did not make it necessary to read much between the lines when commenting on the club’s shift at manager this year.
“Honestly, I didn’t care,” he said about the change at manager. “I didn’t have a problem with Manager John. I didn’t have a problem with (his firing).”
How have the conversations been with new skipper Alex Cora so far?
“They’ve been good. They’ve been light,” he said. “It’s casual conversation. It’s not always about baseball, and I think that’s good. We have a good relationship already, and that’s talking more than just baseball.”
Maybe the weirdest thing about Price’s turbulent 2017 — that was the adjective John Henry used to describe it last autumn — is how well he pitched for the majority of it. When Price was, in fact, on the mound, he looked a good bit like his old self. He pumped fastballs in the strike zone. He dominated for stretches, especially late in the season out of the bullpen. He posted a 3.38 ERA overall in the regular season, and he submitted a mark of 2.52 from his fourth start on through the postseason.
It’s the way he finished the season, with 15 1/3 scoreless relief innings, that has Price pumped entering this spring.
“To be able to throw the baseball in October that way, whether you’re starting or coming out of the bullpen, you’ve got to be able to take something good out of it,” he said. “Coming off the injury I dealt with last year, to come back and throw the amount of pitches I did and to be able to throw in back to back games, that was good.”
That version of Price for seven months would be the biggest addition Boston could possibly make in an offseason. Backing up Chris Sale with that Price would give the Sox as good a rotation as any in baseball, and it would make them a postseason team to be feared.
“I came here to win,” he said while adding he had no plans to opt out of his long-term contract at year’s end. “I knew how tough it was to play here and pitch here. If you can go out there and win, I know all the emotions and everything’s going to be better in that positive light. I look forward to doing that.
“Everything I’ve been through in the past two years, it’s been a struggle, absolutely, but I feel like I’ve gotten better from it. I’ve learned from it. I look forward to continuing to learn.”