Boston Red Sox lefty David Price confronted broadcaster and MLB Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley about some on-air comments, the team confirmed.
The verbal confrontation between the two men occurred on the Red Sox charter flight as they flew from Boston to Toronto Thursday night. Price was the winning pitcher earlier that evening against the Twins, going seven innings and giving up three runs in the 6-3 victory. He also forgot to cover first base at a key moment in the fourth inning, which led to Twins scoring.
Without elaborating, Red Sox field manager John Farrell said that he and team president Dave Dombrowski had a sit-down last night with Price about the Eckersley incident and that it was being handled internally. The Sox prevailed over the Blue Jays last night in 11 innings by a score of 7-4, putting them in first place in the American League East by one game with a record of 45-35 going into today’s action.
Without going into any detail, Price told the Boston Globe, which broke the story, that it was all settled, and added that “Some people just don’t understand how hard this game is,” which is an odd way to describe Eckersley given his stellar resume, if that is to whom Price was referring.
Picking a fight with Dennis Eckersley is not a good look for Price, WEEI columnist John Tomase wrote.
“In any event, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if Price had heard Eckersley say something negative over the last couple of months. The Hall of Famer doesn’t mince words, which is what makes him such a great analyst…Eckersley is one of the most universally respected figures in the game. He’s as friendly off the air as he is colorful and knowledgeable on it. He’s the rare Hall of Famer who seems genuinely without ego.”
David Price recently had a shouting match with a Comcast SportsNet New England reporter apparently over some tweets.
Eckersley declined to comment about the pre-July 4th verbal fireworks.
“Eckersley seemed glowing in his analysis of Price’s outing, but it was not known whether it was something that was said during that broadcast or from a prior analysis,” the Globe added.
Dennis Eckersley is ordinarily part of a rotating cast of pre-game and post-game Sox analysts for the New England Sports Network (NESN), but he is doing in-game color commentary alongside play-by-play man Dave O’Brien while Jerry Remy is on medical leave.
As alluded to above, Eckersley combines the enthusiasm and sense of humor of an ordinary fan with an expert knowledge of pitching, supplemented with vivid terms such as “gas,” “cheese,” “salad,” “hair,” “paint,” “hook,” and so on.
With that in mind, Eckersley is “known for his candid, straight-shooting and often colorful breakdown of games,” ESPN noted.
Eck, as he is nicknamed, pitched in the majors from 1975 to 1998 for five teams, including seven years with the Red Sox and eight years with the Oakland Athletics. With a career won-loss record of 197-171 and with 390 saves as a closer, he is only the second pitcher in professional baseball history to achieve a 20-win season as a starter and a 50-save season as a closer.
Eckersley may have been alluding to the Price confrontation last night during the Red Sox broadcast when he offhandedly joked something along the lines that Hall of Fame membership doesn’t count for much these days.
David Price made his first 2017 start on Memorial Day after missing most of the spring training and the first two months of the regular season with an elbow stiffness. His record so far is 3-2, with a 4.61 earned run average over seven games. For his career, he is 124-67 with a 3.25 ERA.
Price, who seems to be gaining a reputation for being thin-skinned even about mild criticism from the media or fans, signed a seven-year, $217 million free-agent contract with Boston prior to the 2016 season, but there is increasing speculation that he may invoke his opt-out clause after next season.
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.
Separately, watch Farrell, who has a history of questionable in-game strategy, give WEEI radio host Rich Keefe the “death stare” when Keefe questions him about no longer using lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel in high-leverage, eighth-inning situations.
[Featured Image by Michael Dwyer/AP Images]