David Price Could Be Most Important Piece To Red Sox Taking Next Step In 2018

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Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price

Photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images

David Price turned in another fine effort Tuesday, the latest positive step in his attempt to regain his status as one of baseball’s best pitchers.

That might be optimistic thinking for the Boston Red Sox pitcher, who’s seven years removed from winning the Cy Young Award and whose elbow may or may not be hanging on by a thread. If he stays healthy, though, the southpaw could be a positive contributor to a Red Sox team with World Series aspirations.

In fact, Price actually might be the most important piece of the Red Sox’s puzzle in 2018.

Price breezed through five innings Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out four and walking one. It’s been so far, so good for the 32-year-old, who tossed four scoreless frames in his first start of the spring back last Thursday.

Overreacting to nine Grapefruit League innings obviously is foolhardy. But when you consider what the Red Sox got from Price after his return from injury last season, it’s easy to think he once again could be a difference-maker at the top of Boston’s rotation. Counting the playoffs, Price pitched 15 1/3 scoreless innings after returning on Sept. 17.

Price’s performance, and his willingness to do whatever the team asked, impressed then-bullpen coach Dana LeVangie, who now serves as the Red Sox’s pitching coach.

“At the time of the need where he was pitching, he proved to me how tough mentally, physically he was, because he pitched a lot of innings out of the bullpen, but he also told me every day that he was down there that he wanted to pitch. He would make me call down to let these guys know (he was ready to pitch),” LeVangie told NESN.com in January at Red Sox Winter Weekend. “For me, it just speaks volumes on how much he wants to win and what it will take for him to help this team win.”

If Price keeps it up — and if he stays healthy —  he’ll give the Red Sox a formidable top half of the rotation along with 2017 Cy Young runner-up Chris Sale. That will make life much simpler for LeVangie and the Red Sox in 2018.

“It just sort of allows everyone to fall into their place,” LeVangie added. “When you can have a consistency of a guy every five days taking the ball, it just puts everybody in their normal mode, whether it’s the coaching staff, the rest of the pitchers, the bullpen … (If) we have David Price taking the ball every five days, it’s a comfort zone, and David Price brings big-time comfort to the Boston Red Sox.”

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