David Price downplayed his longstanding rivalry with David Ortiz when introduced as a member of the Boston Red Sox, saying he was ready to become “really good friends” with Big Papi. But deep down inside, Price was a bit uneasy about how he’d be received by his new teammate.
“I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest, and to me that was best-case scenario,” Price told WEEI.com on Tuesday. “I needed that. I really needed that. It was something, I might not have shown it, but it’s something I thought about extremely often, whether it was being in the training room or the weight room for an hour, and then coming back in here — ‘Is he going to be here?’ Or waking up the next morning, driving to the field — ‘Is he going to be in the clubhouse? Is he going to be in the food room when I walk in there? What do I do when I see him?’ I didn’t know. I was just in limbo. It couldn’t have went any better, and I was extremely thankful for that and I told him that.”
Ortiz and Price exchanged words — and nearly blows — on more than one occasion when the left-hander was with the Tampa Bay Rays. Price took exception to Ortiz admiring a home run during the 2013 playoffs and plunked him the first time they met in 2014. A fired-up Ortiz declared “war” following the latter incident, even suggesting that Price “bring the gloves” the next time they faced each other.
It’s all water under the bridge now, as Price and Ortiz each vowed to coexist after Price signed a seven-year contract for a reported $217 million with Boston over the offseason. But the verbal assurances via the media were nothing compared to Monday’s interaction, in which Ortiz told Price, “I’ve got your back,” before embracing his new friend.
“Yeah, I was relieved,” Price told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “I didn’t know what to expect. Like if he wanted to slap me one good time, I’m like, ‘All right, do it, get it over with, so I can give you a hug.’ First, it was a handshake and then he pulled me in and wrapped his big old arms around me and held it for three or four seconds. It felt genuine. If it wasn’t, I don’t care. It felt that way. That’s what I needed, so thank you.”
According to Bradford, Price said he was “worried” before his first Red Sox interaction with Ortiz, in large because the 2012 Cy Young winner doesn’t want there to be any distractions going into the 2016 season. Price can sleep a little easier now.
The moment of truth is over and both players are on the same page.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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