Price eager to try again
Hopes to end playoff hex
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.’
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.