By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — David Price was dealing in Minnesota on Tuesday night. He had held the powerful Twins offense to just four hits and a run after five innings.
And then, suddenly, his night was done. Boston’s lefty got the hook after just 73 pitches, much to the surprise of everyone watching.
The Red Sox announced during Tuesday’s 17-inning loss in the Twin City that Price’s early departure was “not injury related.” Manager Alex Cora made it sound like this was the Red Sox’ version of “load management” following the defeat.
“David, he was short the other day and today was one of those we felt like I was going to take care of him,” said Cora, alluding to Price allowing six runs in 1.1 innings against the Texas Rangers his last time out. “He threw the ball well, but as you guys know, he’s a guy we really need to take care of. He did an outstanding job, and the guys who came in after him did an outstanding job. We just didn’t finish it.”
Price said the decision to give him the early hook was done collectively, though he would have loved to have stayed in and kept going.
“It was tough. I wanted to be able to give us more. That’s what every other starter’s been able to do. That was tough today,” said Price. “It was a collective decision. It wasn’t on Alex. It wasn’t on him.”
Price said he feels fine and will be back out there the next time his turn in the rotation comes up. The decision has raised plenty of eyebrows, but it does make some sense.
So far this season, Price has been Boston’s best starter. And best overall pitcher. If they want to make a playoff run come October, they’re going to need Price to be at the top of his game late in the season. Maybe a little extra rest in June isn’t the worst idea at this juncture in the season.
The 33-year-old threw 26 additional innings last postseason. And those were 26 playoff innings, which are much different than 26 innings in April or May. He’s already been on the injured list this season with left elbow tendinitis. If Boston wants Price to replicate the 5-1 August and September he put together last season, when he had a 2.68 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .194 batting average, or his 3-1 postseason during Boston’s run to the World Series, he’s going to need some rest built in during the dogs days of the regular season.
That being said, maybe the middle game of an important series against one of the best teams in the AL wasn’t the best timing, especially after Price threw just 49 pitches his previous time out. That’s the most questionable aspect of the whole scenario. But the Red Sox saw an opportunity and took it. Expect more planned days off, or shorter-than-usual outings, for Price the rest of the way.
It would appear “load management” is indeed a real thing in all of Boston sports these days, whether we like it or not.