By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — David Price was rolling to start the 2018 season, twirling 14 shutout innings to start his redemption tour.
Then came Wednesday night against the Yankees, and he was back to doing David Price things.
Boston’s $30 million man gave up four runs in the first inning, which is a forgivable offense against the Yankees’ lineup. Even with their struggles to start the season, New York is an offensive juggernaut, and those innings are going to happen. Price earned himself some leeway for bad inning with that stellar start to the season, even if those zeroes were against the lowly Tampa Bay Rays.
But then Price decided he didn’t want to pitch anymore on Wednesday, leaving the game with “a sensation” in his left hand. The Red Sox said they took him out for precautionary reasons.
“My hand never really warmed up,” Price told reporters after the game. “My arm felt fine. My arm felt really good. I had no clue where [the ball] was going.”
“We don’t know if it was the cold weather or if there was an issue there, but he couldn’t grip the ball,” manager Alex Cora said. “He felt it early in the inning or halfway through the inning. You saw the fastball command. We’ve been praising him about hitting his spots and he didn’t.”
Price clearly didn’t have the stuff he displayed in his first two starts of the season, with only 16 of his 35 pitches going for strikes. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead before he recorded his first out, and Gary Sanchez demolished the first pitch he saw from Price for a two-run blast into the Monster seats. It’s par for the course for Price against the Yankees during his Red Sox career; he has a 7.17 ERA against New York over 45.2 innings pitched. Why add to that when you can go enjoy a nice warm clubhouse?
Neither Price nor the team sounded very concerned with the issue after the game. He’ll play catch on Thursday when he gets to Fenway, and there is no MRI or further tests scheduled on his hand. It sounds much more likely that Price didn’t want to pitch in the near-freezing temps after being hit hard by the Yankees in the first inning. In all likelihood, Price will make his next scheduled start Monday morning against the Orioles — unless Boston pushes him back so he can start the first game of their West Coast trip in the warmth of Los Angeles against the Angels on Tuesday.
If this does turn out to be a bigger health issue, then Price deserves an apology for all of those questioning his commitment. But given his past attitude, it’s hard not to question his early exit on Wednesday. Just when it seems like he’s a changed man, it turns out he’s still the same old David Price.