FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — David Price says he’d rather stay in Boston to chase a title than opt out of his contract at the end of the season.
The former Cy Young Award winner spoke to media at the team’s spring training facilities on Tuesday at Fenway South, the team’s spring training home. He said that he had no intentions of using the opt-out clause in his contract at the end of the season, putting an end to speculation —at least for the time being — that he would become a free agent after a tumultuous start to his run with the Red Sox.
“I haven’t had that conversation with my wife or my agent, my family or anybody else,” Price said. “I expect to win here and that’s what I came here for.”
Price said he just needed to clear his head this winter, which included spending his first offseason as a father to his newborn son, Xavier.
“That’s what you use the offseason for,” Price said. “To recharge. Recharge the batteries in your head and in your life and that is what I was able to do. I had a very good offseason and now I feel good both mentally and physically.”
The 2017 season was regrettable in many ways for Price. He was hampered with elbow injuries throughout much of the season, limited to just 11 starts. He went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA and was relegated to bullpen duty in the postseason. In 2016, the first year of his 7-year, $217 million deal with Boston, Price had a 3.99 ERA, the highest since his rookie season of 2009. Combined with a lackluster postseason performance, Price became a target for the ire of fans.
“Everything that I’ve been through the past two years has been a struggle, absolutely,” Price said. “I feel like I’ve gotten better from it, I’ve learned from it and look forward to continuing to learn.”
The situation came to a head with public spats with members of the Boston media, including team broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.
“I could have handled it better, absolutely,” Price said. “But I didn’t. I moved on and am looking forward to getting back to this year on the right foot.”
Price even left the door open to reconciling with the Hall of Fame pitcher and that he would lift his self-imposed embargo on speaking with media on days he wasn’t pitching — as long as he wasn’t bombarded with negativity.
After a tenuous relationship with former manager John Farrell last season, new manager Alex Cora reached out to his ace to connect, even offering some tips on fatherhood. Cora sees a guy that is healthy and motivated to help Boston back to the World Series.
“You look at this roster and there’s not that many guys that have pitched in a World Series,” Cora said. “I think that is something that is going to push him. He wants to get there and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform every five days to see what he can do.”
With an improved outlook and a fully healthy throwing elbow, Price set his goals to pitch in a World Series for the first time since 2008.
“I came here to win,” Price said. “I knew how tough it was to play here and to pitch here and if you go out here and win, all of the emotions and everything is going to be even better in a positive way.”
He says dealing with high expectations from the Boston fan base is pretty straightforward.
“You know what you’re going to get. If you go out there and pitch well, play well, you’re going to have their support,” he said.
He pointed to a piece of advice that was given to him by his former Tampa Bay Rays teammate, James Shields, when it comes to dealing with negativity.
“If you don’t like it, pitch better and that’s always the motto,” Price said.
“You can always make things better by pitching better and that’s what I’ve got to do.”
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