By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — David Price is taking a positive approach to his 2018 season.
The lefty has been in Fort Myers, Florida since early December, determined to have his best season yet as a member of the Red Sox. As he prepares for his third season in Boston, Price is turning the page on a tumultuous 2017 that included a lengthy recovery from an elbow injury and several episodes of off-the-field drama. Things haven’t worked out quite as well as he was hoping when he inked a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox in the winter of 2015, but he has no regrets.
“None at all. Everything I’ve been through the last two years, it’s been a struggle, absolutely. But I feel like I’ve gotten better from it, learned from it, and I look forward to continue to learn,” Price told reporters Tuesday down in Fort Myers.
Price admits he could have handled the off-the-field nonsense a little bit better last year, and is open to chatting with Dennis Eckersley, whom he berated on a team flight after the Hall of Famer made some critical comments about Price and his fellow pitchers.
“I could have handled it better last year, absolutely. I didn’t and I’ve moved on,” Price said on Tuesday. “I look forward to getting back to this year and getting off on the right foot.”
But that “right foot” doesn’t necessarily mean that Price will always be eager to chat with the famous Boston media.
“We can talk, but you’re not going to just come over and overload me with negativity,” Price told the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy — one of the pitcher’s biggest critics and the man who really shined the spotlight on the Eckersley spat last season. “That’s not going to happen.”
Price is already in a better frame of mind this spring than last year. It was early in Spring Training that he first felt soreness in his left elbow, which caused him to shut it down and start the season on the disabled list. He didn’t toe the rubber until late-May, and he was back on the DL two months later with left elbow inflammation. When he returned in the middle of September, he did so as a reliever.
But that trip to the bullpen was no demotion. It was actually a shot of confidence that Price needed to bounce back from his injury, and it proved to be an effective decision by the Red Sox, as Price tossed 6.2 innings of shutout ball in Boston’s ALDS loss to the Houston Astros.
“To get into the playoffs and throw back-to-back days, to throw the amount of pitches I did in the time I did, it took all the injury concern out of my mind,” he said.
Price enters this new season confident and committed to the Red Sox. He owns an opt-out clause in his contract, giving him the ability to become a free agent after the season, but don’t expect the 32-year-old to walk away from four more years at $127 million. That would be a foolish decision for any pitcher, especially with teams tightening their check books the last few offseasons, but that really isn’t Price’s prerogative for remaining in Boston.
“I came here to win. I knew how tough it was to play here, to pitch here. If you go out and win it, I know all the emotions and everything will be even better in that positive light,” he said. “I look forward to doing that.”
If we’ve learned anything about Price over the last three years, it’s that he always says the right things in Fort Myers but usually can’t deliver when things shift back to Boston. Hopefully this time around, he can walk the walk from April to October.
“Winning cures everything,” he said on Tuesday.