BOSTON (CBS) — The fear that David Price would need Tommy John surgery was alleviated on Friday when the pitcher returned from his visit with Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neil ElAttrache with some good news.

Both doctors were surprised when they got to examine the pitcher at the NFL Combine, and Price returned to Spring Training optimistic that he’ll be back in the Boston rotation soon.

“They were like, ‘Your elbow is extremely unique. It’s found a way to kind of heal itself,'” Price told reporters on Saturday. “I’ve heard that before, but not from guys that have done the surgeries they’ve done and looked at as many elbows as they’ve looked at.”

The lefty will still miss some time with lingering elbow soreness, potentially a lengthy amount of it, and there’s no timetable for his return. But at the moment, he doesn’t have to go under the knife, meaning his 2017 season is safe.

For now, at least. Joining Steve Burton and Dan Roche on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night, Tony Massarotti isn’t convinced that Price won’t be missing a big chunk of the season. He’s afraid that the lefty will still require Tommy John at some point, and that would mean his recovery could extend into the 2018 season.

“Look, I don’t know how you feel good about it. I’ll tell you when I believe he’s fine: when he takes the ball every five days and doesn’t have any residuals,” Mazz said Sunday night. “We’ve seen this too many times; they told us that Carson Smith was fine last year, and two months later he has Tommy John. They told us Christian Vazquez was going to be OK the year before that, and [he ended up having] Tommy John.

“[Price’s] elbow, inevitably, is a time bomb,” said Mazz.

Roche notes that Price has tossed the most innings since 2010 (an eye-popping 1529.1 innings), but isn’t ready to jump to any conclusions.

“Here’s where I think it’s different: maybe every pitcher goes through their life and the fear comes into them that they need Tommy John surgery. I think that’s what David Price went through for the first time,” he said. “I think he went to see the two doctors at the NFL Combine and they said, several times according to Price, that it was much better than anything they expected. I think you go with the Terry Francona logic, and I won’t expect to [Price] him until late April or early May, which is fine, take your time.”

While Mazz harped on the lengthy history of pitchers requiring Tommy John surgery following a visit to Dr. Andrews, Roche notes that both Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett saw the doctor while with the Red Sox and neither required the surgery.

If Price does miss an extended period of time, or has to miss the season, who will take his spot in the rotation? And which free agent would Rochie like to see the Sox sign if Price needs surgery? Check out the full discussion (including Rochie and Mazz agreeing on something) in the video above, and catch Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV!



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