BOSTON (CBS) — David Price is really anxious to get his Red Sox career going.
Though pitchers and catchers don’t have to report to spring training until February 18, Boston’s new ace reported for duty at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida on Tuesday. The warmer weather was certainly enticing (it’s also pretty cold in Nashville at the moment), but Price is hoping to get all the first-time greetings out of the way early so he can set his sights on baseball when reporting day rolls around next week.
That doesn’t mean it was all “getting to know you” down south on Tuesday. Price hit the field running, literally, ditching the machines at the gym for the outfield grass. It’s a big step towards getting his legs back after resting in the offseason, and in the coming days, he’ll start to simulate getting up and down during games — which Price says is the most important part of the spring for pitchers.
While the real workouts are still over a week away, Boston’s new No. 1 starter has already done some throwing with his new teammates. He even played around with a knuckleball with Steven Wright, though admitted that after throwing a pretty good knuckler on his first attempt it was all downhill from there. He’s decided to leave that pitch to the experts.
The bottom line is Price has officially started his first year of a seven-year, $217 million pact he signed with the Red Sox in December. New team president Dave Dombrowski set out this offseason determined to bolster Boston’s rotation with a bona fide ace, and Price is confident he can deliver on those expectations.
“I have faith in myself. I feel like the front office had faith in me,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller on Tuesday. “[Dombrowski] spent a year with me in Detroit and saw how I go about my business and how I go about things. That was a big factor in Boston coming after me as hard as they did, and I’m happy to be here.”
The lefty certainly has the resume to lead a rotation, with 104 wins and a 3.09 ERA throughout his eight-year MLB career. He’s won 18 or more games three times in his career, including last season when he went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA between the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays. He tossed 220.1 innings in 2015, the fifth time he’s gone over 200 innings of work in a season.
He hopes that trend continues in 2016.
“I feel like when you get to that 200 inning plateau and beyond, that means you were consistent that year. You may have some games where it didn’t go well and you went four or five innings, but then again you had some games to cover for that and went the occasional eight and nine,” he said.
While Price and the Red Sox are confident he’s the ace the team needs, there are still some red flags — as there usually are with big money deal. He’s now 30 years old with over 1,400 innings on his left shoulder, and there’s also that 2-7 playoff record that will follow him until he twirls a few gems in October. Add all of that up, along with Boston’s third last place finish in four seasons, and there’s plenty of pressure on their prized offseason signing to perform like an ace.
Price knows he’ll have some bad starts and bad stretches, which will be magnified more in Boston than they ever were in Tampa, Detroit or Toronto. But he’s learned that it’s important not to get too up or too down whenever he takes the mound.
“You can’t get down on yourself. You have to stay positive,” he said. “It’s too easy to be negative, which is what I always say. For me to bring positive energy every day, that’s something I really focus on.
“Pressure is perceived. Pressure is only pressure if you view it as pressure. I view baseball as the game I fell in love with when I was two years old,” said Price. “This is something I’ve put everything I have into and I love it. I treat the game with respect and go about my business the right way. I’ve given it everything I’ve got because I know there will be a time when baseball is not always going to be here for me. So for me to not go out and give it everything I have, and put a smile on my face and have fun, it does the game a little injustice.”
April 4’s opening day tilt in Cleveland is still a long ways away, and he still has a lot of work to do down in Florida to get his body prepared for 30+ starts, but it sounds like Price ready to take the ball for the Red Sox.