Price embraces Red Sox role
Fearless pitcher ready to make mark with new team in Boston
Folks have been trying to frighten David Price ever since he decided to go to work for the Boston Red Sox.
They bring up stories of naive free agents who came to Boston thinking they could handle the relentless scrutiny of themedia and fans, only to be begging to be traded a few months later.
They talk about all the horrors of pitching at Fenway Park and the ruthless lineups of the American League East.
And they bring up the anxiety of sharing a clubhouse with Red Sox icon David Ortiz, with the two once having exchanged a nasty volley of words after Price hit him in the back with a pitch.
Sorry, the scare tactics won’t work, just as they didn’t two years ago when Ortiz threatened him, only for Price to tell him to stop “acting as if he’s bigger than the game.”
“I hear all of the stories people have,” Boston’s new $ 217 million ace told USA TODAY Sports. “But really, I knew all that when I signed up for this. I’ve got thick skin. You’ve got to have thick skin in this game. I know it’s a tough place to play, but if you can embrace that and throw the baseball the way I know I’m capable of, I can’t imagine how it will feel to have that passionate fan base behind you, where they get so loud the dugout shakes and you feel like Fenway is going to crumble. That’s why I came here.”
And it’s why Dave Dombrowski, who, as Detroit Tigers general manager last season, traded Price to restock the team’s minor league system, couldn’t wait to get him back. Dombrowski traded Price on July 30, was fired Aug. 4, two weeks later became the Red Sox president and on the first day of December signed Price. “You can never predict how life works,” Dombrowski said. “I was hoping he would be in Detroit for years. At the time, I was hoping I’d be there for years, too. Now, here we are back together, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Price could have opted for the fertile pitching grounds of the National League West, which has produced 12 of the last 17 NL Cy Young Award winners. He could have been close to his Nashville home pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals or Chicago Cubs in the NL, the DH all but eradicated from his life.
He could have picked a town in which he could have gotten dressed each day in peace, without waves of reporters and camera crews waiting like paparazzi outside aHollywood restaurant.
The man chose Boston and has no doubt it’s the perfect choice.
“People can make it however they want,” Price said. “They can talk about my contract or being an ace. It’s not going to change my passion and love for the game of baseball. It’s not going to addmore pressure onme.”
Price paused, slowly broke into a grin, and said, “Besides, I like challenges.”
Well, he has one in Boston, having joined a team that has finished in last place in three of the last four seasons; leading a rotation that had the seventhworst ERA ( 4.39) last season; and working for a club that has employed three managers and three generalmanagers in the last five years.
Bring it on, Price says, because he has plans.
He wants to become the first pitcher in the DH era to spend his entire career in the AL and reach the Hall of Fame, though Mike Mussinamight beat him to it. “If I can continue throwing the baseball the way I’m capable of throwing it,” said Price, one of five pitchers in history to win ERA titles with two different AL teams, “I have a chance to do something special. ... I want to leave my mark on baseball. That’s very important to me.”
He wants to be as beloved a figure in Boston as Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez or even Ortiz, who ended his feud with Price, hugging him the first time he saw him in camp. “Being accepted by all my teammates is something I want and need,” Price said, “especially for Big Papi, the heart and soul of this team and of the city of Boston. That was huge for me.”
Most important, he wants to return the Red Sox to greatness and reach the heights he found with the Tampa Bay Rays, Tigers and — for the final two months of 2015— the Toronto Blue Jays.
This is a five- time All- Star who has a 104- 56 record and 3.09 ERA. He won the Cy Young award in 2012 and finished runner- up twice, including last year. He has averaged 217 innings a season since becoming a full- time starter. So you think he can be scared? He plans to live in downtown Boston, a scooter ride from Fenway Park, enjoy the city, visit all the historical spots and, ultimately, hopes to experience that famous Boston attraction. “I want to see a Duck Boat,” Price said. “I mean, the good one. The Duck Boat parade they have for winning championships.”
Who’s scared now?
David Price is sure he’ll continue dominating with the Red Sox.