It wasn’t an offseason weight-loss program, but pitcher David Price is entering the 2019 season much lighter.
A tremendous burden has been lifted from his shoulders. The Boston Red Sox lefty has finally gotten rid of the postseason demons that had been haunting him for much of his 11-season career.
“I do (feel that way), so yeah,” Price said. “It felt good to go out there and perform on that level. I know how many doubters are out there and whatnot, and that’s fine. It felt good to go out there and to be able to prove myself right. That was what it was all about.”
Helping the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series championship — the first of Price’s career — can have that effect. Price earned two of his team’s four World Series wins — including the Game 5 clincher against the Dodgers — appearing in three games, with two starts, posting a 1.98 ERA. Some thought he was a legitimate candidate for the World Series MVP honor which went to teammate Steve Pearce.
Before last season, Price was 2-8 in 17 postseason games with Tampa Bay, Detroit, Toronto and Boston, and had never won in any of his nine starts.
“To be a world champion,” he said, “that’s why I play the game, to be able to experience that at this level. It definitely feels good.”
Price, as with all Red Sox veteran starting pitchers, was brought along slowly this spring then was slowed by an illness. He will make his final preseason tuneup Tuesday in Arizona against the Cubs. But Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner while with Tampa Bay, has assured manager Alex Cora he is ready to start the season.
“I trust him,” Cora said. “If he tells me he’s ready, he’s ready.”
The Red Sox open the season Thursday night at Seattle.
The 33-year-old is entering the fourth season of a seven-year, $217 million deal. It hasn’t always been easy for him in Boston, on the field or off. He has caused some controversy with comments he’s made and in 2017 was limited by injury to 11 starts. He is 39-19 in 81 games with the Red Sox, including 16-7 in 30 starts last year.
His goal now is to prove last season — especially his postseason — was not a fluke.
“I’ve said it many times. I didn’t come here to win one World Series,” he said. “I came here to win multiple World Series. We won one last year and we want to do it again.”
And, if he does, he’ll savor it more this time.
“When Cora hugged me on the field right after we won, the first thing I said to him was, ‘I want to do it again next year,'” Price said. “I think the first time you ever go through something like that, you don’t really grasp what’s going on and get to enjoy it the way you should enjoy that moment.
“To go through it once, to experience all of that — I think if you get back to that point again in your career, you can really kind of sit back and take in everything and it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to having the opportunity to do.”