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Buckley: Now David Price needs to back up his words and seize fresh start - http://allcharts.co.za |

February 13, 2018 9:54 pm
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buckley-now-david-price-needs-to-back-up-his-words-and-seize-fresh-start Buckley: Now David Price needs to back up his words and seize fresh start

David Price met with the media Tuesday at JetBlue Park, bringing an added dose of sunshine to an already bright Florida morning by speaking in cheerful, upbeat terms about the upcoming season.

“You guys expect a lot,” he said, reading the minds of Boston sports fans. “You’ve had a lot of championship teams. The Patriots have won a lot, the Celtics in ‘07 or ‘08, the Bruins. You guys expect a lot and guys coming into Boston know that. Go out there and win. Winning cures everything.

Price chose this “I Am Boston” course of action because:

A) He recognizes that as a team leader he has the power, and the responsibility, to create a better atmosphere at Fenway Park.

B) With Yu Darvish having just signed a six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs for a modest (by today’s standards) $126 million, it has occurred to Price that he won’t find anyone to pay him the remaining $127 million over four years on his Sox contract if he opts out at the end of the season.

C) Why would any Red Sox fan give a rat’s butkus why Price is playing nice as long as he continues to play nice?

It’s no secret last year’s Red Sox were a grumpy, dysfunctional bunch, and please stop with all the claptrap about how they finished first in the American League East. They were a mess, and the manner in which they played the Houston Astros in the Division Series suggested they couldn’t wait to get it over with and go home.

One of the few players who did deliver in the postseason was, interestingly, David Price. The rehabbing lefty whose ailing elbow idled him for much of the regular season delivered 6 2/3 shutout innings in two relief appearances. But it’s also no secret Price handcrafted the malaise that existed in the Boston clubhouse, what with his infamous charter-flight verbal beatdown of NESN analyst/Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley to that immature tirade he directed at a collection of sportswriters in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium.

On Tuesday, Price fielded questions about these and other issues.

The Eck Incident?

“Yeah, I said it before, I could’ve handled certain things better last year and I didn’t,” he said. “If he wants to talk, I’ll talk.”

It was pointed out that he appeared not to like being with the Red Sox last year.

“If that’s the way it was interpreted, I could’ve handled it better last year, absolutely, but I didn’t, and I’ve moved on,” he said. “I look forward to getting back this year and getting off on the right foot.”

Will sportswriters be able to speak with Price in 2018?

“We can talk,” he said, “but you’re not going to come over and overload me with negativity. It’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen.”

There’s a bit of a lawyer’s dodge in that response. If Price has a bad outing and gets quizzed about pitch selection, both in person and on talk radio, will the lefty dismiss those questions as being laced in negativity?

He was asked if be believed a change in leadership — that is, manager John Farrell — was necessary.

“I didn’t have a problem with Manager John,” he said. “I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Translation: He’s thrilled Farrell is gone. Price won this one. In that respect, Price was every bit the clubhouse leader he purports to be: More than anyone, he helped get the manager fired. Why he needed to throw in “Manager John” as a needless parting shot is something of a mystery, though it should tell you something about the 2017 Sox clubhouse.

But here’s a question to which we still need an answer: Is David Price a true leader?

“Absolutely,” he said. “Everybody in their own right can be a leader. It’s not something you wake up and say I’m going to be a leader today. Leaders lead. There’s going to be different types of leaders.”

But if Price thinks being a leader is having younger players hanging around his locker, he’s missing the point, and by a mile.

What the Red Sox need is an organizational leader. They need a spokesman, a symbol, a face. That’s what David Ortiz was, and Pedro Martinez before that, and before him Mo Vaughn. Even guys like John Valentin, Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar emerged as faces of the organization, though they were never the top-of-the-marquee stars that Price is.

Perhaps Price isn’t temperamentally suited for the assignment. Maybe he really does hate it here, and, as such, he’s never going to be the author of a new Red Sox Way.

But he’s halfway there: He can lights-out pitch. Go re-watch those postseason relief outings against the Astros, and then imagine Price, if healthy, doing that for 32 to 35 starts. Imagine a summer of Price getting an inning-ending punch out and then walking back to the dugout with a look on his face suggesting there was something deep and personal about that punch out. Fans love that stuff.

The other half? Price needs to lighten up a little and inspire his teammates to be aggressive without being stupid, and fiery without being reckless.

Did you see the Sox run the bases last year? That wasn’t aggressive. That was stupid. Did you see how Matt Barnes drilled Manny Machado in the helmet as payback for the Baltimore Oriole’s jarring takeout slide of Dustin Pedroia? That wasn’t fiery. That was reckless. And dangerous.

Rookie manager Alex Cora can only do so much. Price has the power to do the rest.

On Tuesday, he said he’s up to the task.

It’s Go Time.

 
 

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