The Red Sox will activate lefty David Price to make his season debut on Monday, skipper John Farrell told reporters including Ian Browne of MLB.com (via Twitter). He had spent the early portion of the season rehabbing from an elbow injury.
That’s obviously welcome news for a Boston organization that hasn’t exactly sprinted out of the gates. While the club is in fine position at three games over .500, it sits third in a tightly packed AL East.
The rotation, in particular, has been a source of some consternation. Chris Sale has been every bit as good as advertised, and Eduardo Rodriguez is throwing quite well. But reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello hasn’t been nearly as dominant as he was last year, Drew Pomeranz has struggled, and Steven Wright was knocked out for the rest of the year with a knee injury.
With the plug-in options scuffling in Wright’s stead, Price will be welcomed back with open arms. The expectation had been that he and Sale would make up the best lefty-lefty rotation duo in the game, but his worrying spring injury threw that in doubt. Now, the team will finally see what it has in a complete staff, though all eyes will remain on Price to see how he responds.
After all, the 31-year-old southpaw isn’t just another pitcher. He signed the richest-ever contract for a starter in the 2015-16 offseason, landing with the Red Sox for $217MM over seven years. But the long-time ace managed only a 3.99 ERA in his league-leading 230 frames last year before the elbow injury arose this spring. His return — and his health and effectiveness — are thus of significant importance to the team. (It matters for Price’s bottom line, too; he can opt out after 2018, but will surely only do so if he thinks he could earn quite a bit more money.)
Given the stakes, it’s perhaps a bit surprising that the Sox are moving Price back up to the majors right now. He has thrown only 5 2/3 innings over two starts on his rehab assignment, allowing six earned runs on 12 hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Perhaps that’s not particularly concerning for a pitcher of Price’s standing, but if nothing else it’ll increase the challenge for managing his workload. Skipper John Farrell acknowledged that he expects to hold Price to a pitch count — that coming by way of Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, on Twitter — while also saying that he thinks the poor rehab starts were attributable to the veteran shaking off the rust from his long layoff.