David Price looked sad on Wednesday night. Sad as his name in fading sidewalk paint, which remains to this day outside the Rogers Centre, according to a tweet from Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.
The Sportsnet broadcast camera lingered on the man who was so adored here in the fall of 2015 a couple times, as he sat in the Red Sox dugout, and Ian Hunter captured a couple GIFs that seemed to say it all:
David Price tapping his fingers to "Let's Go Blue Jays" on the stadium organ.— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) April 20, 2017
I think he misses this place. pic.twitter.com/G7QKJwn35u
*Sad David Price* pic.twitter.com/tZERle4AA3— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) April 20, 2017
It’s fun to make jokes that Price misses it here and longs to be back. What Jays fan wouldn’t revel in the idea that Boston isn’t the baseball paradise that city’s fans and media seem so often to make it out to be? But I can’t help but think there’s something genuine in this.
Toronto in the fall of 2015, after all, was the last place everything was going right for Price. Or so it maybe seems. And even if it maybe entirely wasn’t — Price’s infamous playoff woes followed him to the Rogers Centre, too — the fans here overwhelmingly had his back.
These days? While I’m sure there are plenty of great Boston fans, too, the once buoyant Price seems rather down on the experience. The big-money, long-term deal that he signed in late 2015 — crushing so many Canadian hearts in the process — has started in an awful way. Price was good but not great in 2016. He began poorly, sitting on a 6.75 ERA on May 10th, and managed to only get it down to 4.74 by July 1st. He was better for much of the second half… until the end of September, when two of his last four starts of the season got ugly, setting up yet another playoff disappointment.
For the trash bags of Boston (and make no mistake, we have our trash bags, too — ask Brett Cecil), this was apparently too much.
“Price showed his sensitivity on Twitter at times this past offseason, reacting to Red Sox fans when they continued to remind him of his winless postseason record as a starting pitcher,” wrote Christopher Smith of MassLive in a piece earlier this month on the biggest questions facing the club this season. “Fans constantly replied ‘0-8’ and ‘win a playoff game’ to his tweets no matter what the topic (baseball or non-baseball related).”
In a Boston Globe interview this spring he lashed out at fans and media alike. “People don’t care about what I do [off the field] or the type of person that I am,” he said, because “if they care, I wouldn’t have went through all that crap that I went through last year.” And “with the reporters, not one time did anybody take the time to get to know me or my foundation or anything I do away from the field.”
He’s still feeling the fallout, and still open — though maybe not in quite so many words — about how he’s not in the happiest place. In another Christopher Smith piece at MassLive, filed on Wednesday and datelined in Toronto, Price comes off as brusque. Perhaps part of it is that he just doesn’t like conversing with the Boston media much — couldn’t blame him for that — but the issues go deeper still, as we see in this exchange:
Is he enjoying Boston? (It hasn’t seemed like it at times as mentioned in our 2017 Red Sox preview).
“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah.”
So you like it here?
“Yeah. I love my teammates.”
He seems like he is done getting frustrated with what people say to him on Twitter.
“I’m not worried about none of them people on Twitter.”
If the halcyon days of that incredible Blue Jays run, the scooters and the David Price Nickname Generator, seem a world away to you, clearly you’re not alone.
Man, Boston sucks.
But let’s not kid ourselves too much. Things wouldn’t have stayed magical here forever. There would have been trying times. There would have been injuries. And that is, of course, the other pall that’s been hanging over Price.
He’s hurt. And according to Smith’s piece today, surgery still isn’t off the table.
This runs counter to all the reports we heard from the Red Sox in March.
Back then, after meeting with renowned surgeons Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache for a second opinion on his aching elbow, Price was told he wouldn’t need surgery. He spoke then about things looking better than expected, and that he had a “bionic elbow” that had somewhat healed itself. John Farrell called it a “best case scenario.” Red Sox Nation heaved a sigh of relief.
Now there’s uncertainty again.
“Price’s throwing program got slowed down a bit this week after he threw bullpens last Monday, Wednesday and Saturday,” Smith wrote on Wednesday. “He’s not 100 percent confident his elbow injury won’t eventually result in surgery. ‘We’re going to find out,’ Price told MassLive.com.”
So… yeah. You’re goddamn right David Price maybe looked a little wistful at times on Wednesday night. And as much as I wish nothing but huge bowls of salty tears every night for Red Sox fans, it fucking sucks.
Price has an opt-out in his contract with Boston that could make him a free agent again after the 2018 season. Doing so would mean forgoing $127 million still owed him. If this year ends up in surgery, what he’s worth, and whether it makes financial sense to opt out, will rest on a comeback year next season. Even if he avoids surgery and turns his 2017 into the kind of season we know he’s capable of, he’s almost certainly going to stay in Boston for the duration of the deal (barring a trade — which would be just like those scums, wouldn’t it?).
But we can dream, can’t we?
Get out, David! Get out when you can and come back to where you always wanted to be, Players’ Union be damned!