Price eager to try again

Hopes to end play­off hex

Boston Herald - - 2018 ALCS - RED SOX BEAT Michael Sil­ver­man Twit­ter: @MikeSil­ver­manBB

The pause was not preg­nant so much as it was just a bit heart­break­ing. Which is where we’re at with David Price right now.

He doesn’t need your pity. He de­serves your em­pa­thy.

The ques­tion to Price yes­ter­day be­fore Game 1 of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries that crys­tal­lized this stage of com­pas­sion sounded in­no­cent enough.

“What’s the big­gest thing you’ve learned about pitch­ing in the post­sea­son that you don’t nec­es­sar­ily know be­fore you do it?”

Thought-pro­vok­ing enough for most other pitch­ers, but when di­rected at Price, the ques­tion slipped un­der his skin and found a raw and com­pletely ex­posed nerve.

For a solid three sec­onds Price stared at the ques­tioner with a dole­ful and help­less look in his eyes that matched the ver­bal paral­y­sis he was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a tough ques­tion. I don’t re­ally have an an­swer.”

Price paused again.

“I feel like I’ve given some an­swers the past eight years,” he said. “But I don’t re­ally have an an­swer for it. But, I mean, it’s dif­fer­ent base­ball. It is.”

Price willed a smile.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I en­joy it. Haven’t been suc­cess­ful the way that I know I can be and will be, but I look for­ward to get­ting out there (tonight).”

Price’s eight-sea­son saga of fu­til­ity as a post­sea­son starter — win­less af­ter 10 starts, with a 6.03 ERA — is fa­mil­iar to all but the most will­fully obliv­i­ous among us.

The “Ground­hog Day” na­ture of his day-be­fore me­dia ses­sions is no joke, just as his postgame ses­sions are.

He’s al­ways there, though, try­ing to an­swer the so-far-unan­swer­able ques­tions about what is so damn dif­fer­ent about pitch­ing in the post­sea­son than the reg­u­lar sea­son.

At least he tries to of­fer rea­sons. And there’s no con­cern that he’s not try­ing out there.

It’s just the re­al­ity is he can’t do his job in Oc­to­ber, and it’s now as sad as it is frus­trat­ing for any­one who watches Price and roots for the Red Sox.

There’s no joy in watch­ing any­body suf­fer. And while the fail­ings of highly paid pro­fes­sional ath­letes do not merit any com­par­i­son to real-life prob­lems, it’s still OK to feel for the guy.

The Red Sox do need him to twirl a gem against the Astros tonight. Some, like my­self, still think Alex Cora made a mis­take in not send­ing Price to the bullpen for this se­ries, but there are plenty of rea­sons why Cora did what he did.

Given the horse­shoes Cora clops around in, Price will prob­a­bly throw a shutout.

Cora un­der­stands bet­ter than any­body that Price is op­er­at­ing un­der a men­tal block. To most of us that’s a block of gran­ite, but tellingly, to Cora, it’s a block of ice that has time to melt, as Price re­vealed.

— DAVID PRICE On his play­off record

“It’s good,” said Price about be­ing given an­other shot at start­ing. “I did ex­pect to make more starts for us in this year’s play­offs. But Alex told me be­fore we even got off the field that night. So for him to tell me be­fore we even took our jerseys off to put on our post­sea­son shirts that we get when we win, that was spe­cial.”

As be­fud­dled as Price is by post­sea­son Price, he does not wa­ver. When he does find words, he al­ways ex­presses faith that his fates will turn. That’s part of the em­pa­thy fac­tor in play. How can you not root for some­body to suc­ceed? The al­ter­na­tive is cold­hearted skep­ti­cism that’s sim­ply cruel.

“Be­lief,” said Price about how to bal­ance con­sis­tent ap­proaches with need­ing to change things up when strug­gling. “You know, you’ve got to have faith in your­self know­ing that you’re go­ing to bounce back, you’re go­ing to match pitches and you’re go­ing to help your team win.”

It’s un­clear how much Price walks around or shops or eats in 1pub­lic in Bos­ton, but when he has re­cently, he re­ported that he has not en­coun­tered non-be­liev­ers in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

“Ev­ery­thing has been good from fans, out and about,” said Price. “Just warm­ing up in the bullpen. Go­ing out to the bullpen. They’ve sup­ported me the en­tire year. I feel like it’s been good.”

Their mes­sage? With a big old smile, Price said, “‘Go get ’em.’”

That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to see hap­pen.

‘I feel like I’ve given some an­swers the past eight years. But I don’t re­ally have an an­swer for it. . . . I look for­ward to get­ting out there to­mor­row.’

STAFF PHO­TOS BY CHRISTO­PHER EVANS

FOR STARTERS: Above, David Price throws on the field prior to last night’s Game 1 of the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries vs. Hous­ton at Fen­way Park. Be­low, last night’s starter Chris Sale got the Fen­way faith­ful go­ing, but walked four of the first 12 bat­ters he faced and was out af­ter four in­nings de­spite al­low­ing just two runs and one hit.

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