David Price is set to be the No. 5 starter in the Boston Red Sox rotation, but the left-hander isn’t ruling out a relief appearance during the season’s opening weekend.
Price pitched four innings Tuesday in Boston’s final exhibition game, a 16-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs, then said he’s interested in pitching an inning or two during a season-opening series at Seattle that begins Thursday.
The 33-year-old Price was slowed this spring because of a norovirus, and Tuesday was his first game since March 12. Boston decided to slot Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello ahead of him in the rotation, with an eye on potentially getting Price some work during one of the first two regular season games.
“I don’t know if he wants a tune-up, but we could do a cool thing in game one or two in Seattle just to get his feet wet,” manager Alex Cora said.
“It’s just another rep,” Price said. “It’s just getting out there in a real game, one that counts. You can kind of do things a little differently than in spring training. To get out there in a real game, it makes everything a little more natural.”
Last year, Price totaled 12 innings in three spring games, then went 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA over 30 starts. Despite the virus, Price said he feels better physically than a year ago.
“I didn’t get as many reps as I got last year in spring training but physically I feel it’s one of the strongest I’ve felt heading into opening day,” he said.
Price retired the first two batters in the Chicago fourth before Kyle Schwarber homered. Mark Zagunis tripled and scored on Addison Russell’s double before Price was pulled.
“He was good,” Cora said of Price. “Good stuff, good velocity, good location. He got his work in and now we go.”
NOTES: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia started at second base and went 0 for 2, playing defense for five innings. Pedroia was limited to three games last season after undergoing a microfracture procedure and cartilage replacement in his left knee in October 2017. Pedroia and first baseman Steve Pearce (left calf) were expected to return to the Red Sox’s complex in Fort Myers, Florida, to continue their rehab. Pearce, the 2018 World Series MVP, will open the season on the injured list. … Sam Travis, who made the team because of Pearce’s injury, hit a grand slam in the seventh inning Tuesday. … Catcher Sandy Leon was outrighted. He has 48 hours to accept or decline.