A week ago, Red Sox fans watched as David Price shut down the Baltimore Orioles and shut up the critics.
Today, Price is caught up in a controversy with the Boston media and coming off a less-than-stellar start vs. the New York Yankees.
It’s a perfect summation of how the 31-year-old left-hander’s tenure in Boston has gone up to this point.
After inking a $217 million deal with the Sox prior to the 2016 season, expectations were rightfully high. Price was fresh off a Cy Young runner-up season and had already won the award once in his career. Of course Boston was going to get its hopes up. The Red Sox got their ace.
Not so fast.
Price wasn’t terrible in 2016, but he was no ace. His 3.99 ERA wasn’t what the Red Sox paid for. His 30 home runs allowed weren’t going to cut it. It wasn’t a disastrous campaign, however it sure was disappointing. As was his short-lived postseason performance.
So that was 2016. One day he’d be solid on the mound, the next he’d get shelled. Whatever. It was just his first season in a major market, and he DID show flashes of brilliance. He’d put it all together, right?
Well, his elbow had other plans.
When the media — whose job it is to get updates on Price’s unclear injury — wanted to talk to him after a bullpen session, they got this instead:
Threw 45 pitches (all 4 pitches) in pen yesterday. Up and down 3 times with 8 minutes in between each 15 pitches session. Felt great after
— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) April 25, 2017
Feel great today. This is my media session. All questions are answered if you have anymore ask manager John
— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) April 25, 2017
I actually didn’t hate this move at the time. It was just a bullpen session. Price tweeted all the information the media would need. No big deal.
Little did we know it foreshadowed a media-related meltdown just over a month later.
Anyway, Price returned to action with a late-May season debut against the Chicago White Sox. He fared pretty well all things considered. He allowed just two hits, albeit one of them was a three-run bomb by Melky Cabrera. Not a perfect outing by any means, but an encouraging one.
Price’s second start vs. the Orioles was outstanding. He allowed just one run over seven-plus innings. Everything was looking up.
But then Price, for whatever reason, chose the most bizarre time to lash out at the Boston media again.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 7, 2017
It’d be one thing if Price got lit up. But why now? Why after a start that halted the criticism and encouraged the Fenway faithful?
It didn’t end there, either. The following night after the Red Sox’s loss to the Yankees, Price really got into it with reporters. One reporter in particular being CSN New England’s Evan Drellich.
Price reportedly pulled Drellich aside in the tunnel leading to Red Sox manager John Farrell’s office, and it wasn’t about dinner plans that night. The conversation got heated, and Price directed some not-so-nice language at Drellich and the entire Boston media.
Price informed me that yes, from now on, he’d only talk on days he pitches. He followed with this: “Write whatever the (expletive) you want. Just write it. Whatever the (expletive) you want.”
Soon Drellich was back in the room, and he and Price went at it again. When Drellich said something about Price’s professionalism, Porcello, standing nearby, asked about Drellich’s professionalism.
A few minutes later, when I spoke with Kevin Gregg about my own exchange with Price, I was told to wait around a few minutes. Gregg was going to see if Price would speak with me.
The last words I heard from David Price last night were “(Expletive) them! (Expletive) them all. All of them.”
You can watch Drellich’s explanation of the incident below:
An explanation of last night. https://t.co/TDmtAMLdii
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 8, 2017
Price didn’t help his cause the next night with his poor performance vs. the Yankees.
But considering the rollercoaster ride it’s been for Price so far in his Red Sox career, that was to be expected. Just when you think he has it all figured out, he implodes. It’s beyond puzzling.
There is no bigger enigma in Major League Baseball right now than David Price, and it’s actually kind of sad. It’s damn near impossible to live up to a $217 million contract, but Price seemed like the type of guy who could do it. He is that talented. Notice how I used present tense there.
The talent has never left. But the mental edge he maintained in his Tampa, Detroit, and Toronto days is undoubtedly missing.
I want to end this by writing with my Red Sox fan point of view. Fans want to see David Price succeed. The Boston media (at least the folks I know) wants to see David Price succeed. But for whatever reason, Price believes we’re all out to get him. That couldn’t be further from the truth. That “woe is me” mentality needs to stop.
What Price needs to understand is there’s a lot of noise in Boston. Part of the learning curve when it comes to playing in Boston is blocking that noise out. That means getting off social media, not searching your name on Google, and not listening to the city’s toxic sports radio programs.
You’re not going to block that noise out by shunning and scolding the media, you’re only going to make matters worse.
To David Price, who most likely will never read this: If sensitivity is going to be a problem for the long run, you can join the likes of Carl Crawford. If you want to bounce back and become a fan favorite in a city that loves a nice comeback story… well, that opportunity is right there for the taking.