Red Sox left-hander will pitch in multi-inning situations
By Ian Browne
BOSTON -- David Price is ready to pitch again for the Red Sox as they embark on the most crucial part of the season, and he will do so out of the bullpen.
The lefty was activated from the disabled list prior to Thursday's game against the Athletics, and manager John Farrell said that Price will first be available in a multi-inning relief role during the upcoming road trip on Sunday against Tampa Bay or Monday against the Orioles.
The Red Sox expect Price to pitch strictly as a reliever for the remainder of the season, including the postseason.
Price, who has made just 11 appearances, all starts, for Boston this season due to left elbow woes that led to two prolonged stints on the DL, passed his final test on Wednesday when he threw a three-inning simulated game.
"He's capable of a couple-of-innings role out of that bullpen, and we'll see how this develops through these final 2 1/2 weeks," said Farrell. "I think there will be some spots that will emerge naturally. I think the one thing that he has shown in these two work sessions is the full assortment of pitches, good power to his fastball. From just a physical standpoint, I think he's passed those tests to put him in this position, and we're looking forward to getting him back to game activity."
The Red Sox are putting Price in a relief role not only because it allows him to return sooner, but also because the club believes he can provide significant value in the role, particularly in the postseason.
"I think given the way bullpens are used from this point in the season forward, a multi-inning role is a critical one, particularly if one can excel in it, and we feel like David can in this period of time," said Farrell. "Go back to 2007 or '13, teams that advanced deep into October, there was a guy that moved out of the rotation and became a multi-inning guy that was a critical performer.
"[Felix] Doubront was that guy in 2013, couple innings on back-to-back nights, to bridge from a starter to later in the bullpen. It was on full display last October the way things have evolved with more aggressive use of the bullpen, so we feel like David getting healthy and getting game activity under his belt makes him a prime candidate to be that type of guy."
The last time Price pitched in relief was in the 2015 American League Division Series for the Blue Jays.
"He came to us after we had lost Brett Cecil, who was our top left-handed guy. Dave said, 'Hey, if you need me in the 'pen, I'm there.' He came to us, which showed me a lot," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said recently. "We got him up that night and didn't need him. But he had been up. So the next day I went to him and I said, 'Listen, if you chuck today you're going to be in the game.' So I had Dave get loose a little bit early and brought him in.
"He was all for it. It was his idea and he was good coming out of the 'pen. He had done that in Tampa. Dave has always had that loose arm. All the innings he has thrown in his career, he knows how to conserve."
In 11 career relief appearances, including postseason, Price is 2-0 with one save and a 2.95 ERA.
As a starter this season, Price went 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA. He last pitched for Boston on July 22.
Price can serve as a bridge between a starting rotation that has been solid in his absence and the late-inning shutdown crew of Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel.
"More importantly, he feels good physically, and that's the priority, that's where he spoke from today," said Farrell. "He recognizes the limited availability of time and to build back up, so logically this is a spot and he is accepting of the role. He wants to get back and pitch. He wants to get back and compete."
• In a joint announcement by the Red Sox and Twins, both clubs revealed that they will donate $100,000 to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to assist with hurricane relief efforts throughout Southwest Florida. Both teams hold Spring Training in Fort Myers, Fla., and several Red Sox players have homes in the area, including Chris Sale, Sandy Leon and Rick Porcello.