Red Sox set Price's season debut for Monday

After latest rehab outing, lefty cleared to start vs. White Sox in Chicago

Red Sox set Price's season debut for Monday

BOSTON -- David Price's 2017 season will start with a Memorial Day matinee on Monday in Chicago against the White Sox, the Red Sox announced on Thursday.

The lefty suffered a left elbow strain while pitching a simulated game in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 28, and he will pitch one day after the three-month anniversary of that injury.

"Excited, just to be back here," said Price. "There's not a better feeling. You can't replicate it anywhere else. To be back here with my teammates, that's a good feeling."

John Smoltz on David Price

With Price re-entering the mix, ace Chris Sale will get an extra day of rest and pitch Tuesday night's game in Chicago in his first matchup with his former team since he was traded in December.

While Price is back in the general time frame the Red Sox plotted out earlier this month, the five-time All-Star did struggle with his command in two Minor League rehab starts for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing nine runs (six earned) over 5 2/3 innings.

The most recent of those outings was Wednesday night, when Price threw 89 pitches in 3 2/3 innings.

"A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time," said Price. "I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six [innings] in 90 pitches. To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don't think you can do that if you're not healthy."

Price expressed full confidence that he can be productive when he returns.

"My thought process is to put up zeros and help us win. That's what I'm here to do. That's what I plan on doing on Monday," Price said.

Red Sox manager John Farrell elaborated on the decision to activate Price for his next start rather than have him continue his rehab assignment.

"I don't know if it's a matter of innings; granted that's going to be important as he goes forward -- the ups and downs," said Farrell. "He obviously accomplished as many as five up and down in the simulated sessions. We were able to get his pitch count to nearly 90 last night, which was the goal all along.

"Physically, he feels great, and his return to us will give us a definite boost. Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation. Monday is his turn, and he'll be back with us."

The Red Sox, through a combination of injuries and under-performance, have struggled in the last two spots in the rotation this season. The return of Price along with Sale, emerging lefty Eduardo Rodriguez and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello could give Boston a big boost.

"We've had a tough stretch," said Price. "I think this team is ... we know that we're a good baseball team. We know that. We just haven't done it yet. Teams go through these stretches. For us to still be above .500, I think that really tells us how good we really are. To kind of have the mayhem we've had around here and to still be above .500, that shows us how much talent we have."

When Price suffered his injury in Spring Training, there was widespread speculation that he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery. Price had similar fears.

"I didn't have a very good outlook on it when I was headed to Indianapolis [for a second opinion]," said Price. "Just day by day, week by week, every time I touched the baseball, I felt it got better and it's continued to progress up to this point, and I feel good."

In his first season with the Red Sox last year, Price went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA. He logged 230 innings and racked up 228 strikeouts. That would be a sound year for most pitchers. But Price has set the bar for better performance over the years, and he signed a seven-year, $217 million contract to come to the Red Sox in December 2015.

Price came to Spring Training determined to regain his top form, but the injury halted everything.

"It's tough, yeah. It is tough, especially when I want to come back and rebound after last year and get things going in the right direction," said Price. "Obviously that's not the way that it happened. It's tough."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.