Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price will make his first start of the 2017 MLB season on Monday against the Chicago White Sox.
The announcement that Price is scheduled to take the mound for the first time on Memorial Day in Chicago comes as a surprise to most fans in that the lefty got shelled in his two recent rehab outings with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, in which he allowed a total of nine runs and 12 hits through 5 2/3 innings.
Going into tonight’s action, the Red Sox are 24-21, but are riding a three-game winning streak.
Price, who signed a a seven-year, $217 million free agent contract with Boston prior to the 2016 season, has been on the shelf since February 28 due to elbow stiffness. Two orthopedic surgeons, Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache, indicated that surgery was unnecessary, although both said that if Price, 31, was younger, going under the knife would be the recommendation.
Despite the lackluster minor league outings, Price believes that he is ready to face big league hitters, WEEI reported.
“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six in 90 pitches. To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy. Stuff wise, I felt really good in both of them with all of my pitches, fastball, changeup, curveball and the cutter. They all felt good.”
Manager John Farrell suggested that Price might be on a pitch count until he’s up to full strength.
“Even if he goes out and gives us the 90 pitches in the first few outings, and obviously there’s going to be a little tighter [rein] on him with the workload initially until we continue to build him out, but like I said adding David Price to your rotation is always going to be a positive, and that starts Monday.”
The history of MLB pitchers coming back after missing most of Spring Training with arm issues is not necessarily good, but hopefully David Price will be able to resume his regular spot in the Red Sox starting rotation without any further physical difficulties.
Selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2007 MLB Draft, he broke into the majors in September, 2008, with that team, and was the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2012. Given their payroll limitations, the Rays traded Price to the Detroit Tigers in 2014. After falling out of playoff contention, Detroit traded Price to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015.
In his first season with the Boston Red Sox, Price had a slow start and ended up with a record of 17-9, with with 3.99 ERA, leading the AL in both innings pitched and hits allowed, a solid season for most pitchers. He also recorded 228 strikeouts. Not endearing himself to Red Sox Nation, Price disappointed as his career post-season woes continued, however, losing Game 2 of the AL Division Series to the Cleveland Indians, lasting just 3 1/3 innings and giving up five runs. The Indians swept the Red Sox out of the playoffs in three games.
Whether the Price is right, as it were, is still a question for many in Red Sox Nation who still wonder why ownership agreed to the huge Price free-agent contract when they were unwilling to re-up Jon Lester, who left for the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series last year.
In David Price’s absence, Chris Sale (5-2) has taken over as the ace of the Boston Red Sox rotation and is leading the majors in strikeouts, including eight consecutive starts with 10-plus strikeouts. Rick Porcello, last year’s Cy Young Award winner, and Eduardo Rodriguez, have both been good, in general, but the back end of the pitching rotation is still unsettled. Unlike his shaky 2016, closer Craig Kimbrel has been lights out in virtually all his appearances, however. The team has also been hampered by injuries to several position players and other relievers.
“In Price’s absence, Red Sox starters have posted a 4.47 ERA, 11th in the 15-team American League entering play Thursday night,” ESPN noted.
[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP Images]