Price Still Holding All the Cards
By Jason Mastrodonato
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The last time Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price held a press conference, he had just walked off the field following a successful World Series in which he threw 13 2/3 brilliant innings in three games over five days.
But Price was already looking forward to his next press conference, anticipating a fresh set of questions in a new spring training environment where he’d finally avoid the discussion about his previous postseason failures.
“It was tough, absolutely, to answer that question in spring training day and day and day and day, and over and over and over and over, anytime it got to September, playoffs,” Price said in October. “I hold all the cards now. And that feels so good.”
Now in Fort Myers to begin his preparation for the 2019 season, Price held his first press conference since the World Series.
He still holds all the cards, “plus the jokers,” he said.
Asked how life changes once you’re a World Series hero, Price said, “It doesn’t.
“I’m still playing baseball,” he said. “Father, husband, son, friend, teammate. It felt good to go out there and perform on that level. I know how many doubters are out there and whatnot, and that’s fine. It felt good to go out there and to be able to prove myself right. That was what it was all about.”
Surviving the winter after winning the World Series felt no different to Price than the previous winters following a decade of postseason losses.
“Probably the first week or two after the season it definitely feels a little better, but other than that, I didn’t do things any differently,” he said. “So I didn’t take that big World Series celebration tour like some guys do. Same offseason.”
Red Sox fans now have to hope that Price remains as motivated as he once was.
His postseason record was once one of the worst of all-time, in any sport, as he (and his team) was winless in nine playoff starts. Most will forget that he put up two stinkers last year, extending his streak to 11 starts without a win. He was awful against the Yankees and suffered another poor outing against the Astros, but redeemed himself with an electric Game 5 against Houston in the AL championship series, two winning starts in the World Series and a relief appearance in Game 3 on just one day of rest.
“It’s good to be back with all our guys,” he said. “There’s been a lot of conversations about the World Series, pretty much from everybody all day long. So it’s definitely fresh in our minds still.”
Price can soak up the glory of the 2018 World Series for the rest of his life. So what does he have to prove now?
“I mean, when Cora hugged me on the field right after we won, the first thing I said to him was, ‘I want to do it again next year,’ ” Price said. “I think the first time you ever go through something like that, you don’t really grasp what’s going on and get to enjoy it the way you should enjoy that moment. To go through it once, to experience all of that, I think if you get back to that point again in your career, you can really kind of sit back and take in everything and it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to having the opportunity to do.”
When the Red Sox recorded the final out, Price was one of the first players to reach the mound and celebrate. He said he was so happy his body went numb.
A few days later, Price announced that he would not take the one chance he had at opting out of his seven-year, $217 million contract. He’s owed $127 million over the next four years and will continue getting paid by the Red Sox through his age-36 season.
Was there ever a moment when Price thought he might opt out?
“No,” he said. “You’ve seen this free agent market? It wasn’t very hard. I want to win again. I’ve said it many times, I didn’t come here to win one World Series. I came here to win multiple World Series. We won one last year and we want to do it again.”
Though Price has underperformed in Boston compared to his previous years (he has a 3.74 ERA with the Red Sox after posting a 3.09 ERA before signing), he put it all together late last year, when he posted a 2.25 ERA in the second half before dominating in his final four postseason outings.
His elbow issues appear to be behind him.
“I feel good,” he said. “Taking it day by day. Just want to focus on right now
“Our starting five, all five guys are going to give us a chance to win everyday against every opponent. Not a lot of teams even have five starters anymore with the opener and whatnot, so for us to still have a solid five group of starting guys, that’s rare right now.”
Price later looked in the camera and said, “Fans, I love you guys. I have no problem with you. I get asked about you all the time. I’m sorry. I love you guys. That’s it.”