By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox missed out on a chance to sweep the Rays on Sunday afternoon, but got their first look at what David Price could offer out of the bullpen.
That first look was a dandy, as Price tossed a pair of perfect innings out of the pen.
It was the first time Price had taken the hill for Boston in seven weeks, and the first time in seven years he’d pitched out of the bullpen in a regular season tilt. Despite the Red Sox losing and not cashing in on a chance to gain ground on the Yankees in the AL East, they can hang their hats on Price looking strong to very strong in his first appearance as a highly priced reliever.
The Boston lefty jogged out of the bullpen for the seventh inning and needed just seven pitches to set down the Rays in order with a line out, strikeout and ground out. He returned for the eighth inning and was again perfect, notching another strikeout in the frame. Price threw all of his pitches, with 15 of his 21 offerings going for strikes, topping out at 96 MPH on the radar gun.
“I’ve done this for a long time. My last bullpens, my last live [batting practices] were really good,” Price told reporters after his return to the mound. “That mound is still 60 feet, six inches away from home plate. I wasn’t surprised.”
Boston manager John Farrell was impressed with Price’s stuff during his “strong” outing, especially after the 32-year-old’s long layoff with lingering elbow issues. Farrell and the Boston brass hope that having Price out of the pen will become a valuable asset for the Red Sox once the postseason rolls around in a few weeks, and there is promise after his 2017 debut as a reliever. He could join closer Craig Kimbrel and Addison Reed to give the Red Sox a potentially devastating three-headed monster to throw against the Indians or Astros when the calendar flips to October.
But there are still plenty of questions surrounding Price’s new gig.
It’s unclear how often he’ll be able to pitch, as Price won’t toe the rubber again until the end of Boston’s upcoming series in Baltimore or the start of their next series against the Cincinnati Reds. The playoffs are also just two weeks away, which may not give Price enough time to build up his strength to make an appearance every other day. And then there’s the biggest question mark with Price, which is if his stuff and elbow will hold up if he’s asked to pitch more than a few times a week. He certainly has the arsenal to be one of those multi-inning threats that has been so popular (and important) in the postseason the last few years, but it’s a matter of Price still having that stuff when his workload increases over the next few weeks.
Price looked good in his return to the mound in his new role, which is promising for the Boston bullpen. If it all works out, they’ll have a powerful arm to help them navigate the late innings for however long their season lasts.