The Curious Case of David Price’s Left Elbow

David Price’s first season in Boston was underwhelming to say the least. The Red Sox invested 7 years and $217 million in the southpaw, but he failed to live up to the contract. In his first year in Bean Town, Price went 17-9, struck-out 228, and threw 230 innings. Price, however, had an ERA of 3.99, gave up 227 hits, and served up 30 home runs. Things were looking up for the Red Sox this offseason after some key additions and Price looked determined to live up to the contract he was given. Then came the elbow problems.

David Price reported to Red Sox camp and seemed to have started off camp throwing well, but began experiencing pain during a simulated game on March 1. Then began a odd affair where the Red Sox and Price refused to give the public many details about his injury. Price boarded a plane and went to Indianapolis to meet with Dr. James Andrews (who was working at the NFL combine at the time). Usually, a pitcher seeing Dr. Andrews does not return with all their ligaments in place as he is one of the main doctors that performs Tommy John surgery. After visiting with Andrews, it was determined that he did not need to undergo surgery. A big sigh of relief, right? Not so fast.

Price returned to Fort Myers and offered no details about his injury, only saying that there was no more inflammation in his elbow on March 13. He did however state that if he was younger he would have had surgery. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported Price saying, “they said if I was 22 or 23 they’d have told me to go have surgery. … I’ve gone through this. This is something I feel like happens every spring training. It’s those first four to five weeks of spring training that I feel like I go through this every single year, and this year was just a little bit worse. You know, my arm got a little bit more stiff, and that’s why we took the precautionary actions that we took. That was the right thing to do.”

When asked about the injury specifically or what surgery he would have had. Price did not reveal anything. “I don’t know what it is,” Price said. “I couldn’t diagnose it. I honestly could not give you a 100 percent answer on what they say. They used medical terms. I don’t even know half of the names of the stuff in my arm. I don’t know it. Like I said, when they said no surgery, no injection, just give it some rest, I literally shut my brain off.”

After that interview, Price began throwing again and the vibe around camp about Price’s elbow was positive. Then on Monday, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said that they do not want to rush Price and that he will not return to action until May. Dombrowski said, “I think part of the thing that he did, to me, probably what happened is, which is unfortunate but it did, he did some winter time work this year, which was discussed with him which he did great, some pilates and all that type stuff. Really loosened up his hip. His delivery was free and easy. Probably overdid it a little bit that one day (he was hurt). But he was throwing hard earlier, but that’d be my instinct.”

For Price, it means its back to square one. As of this article, Price has not thrown off of a mound since his simulated game on March 1. Price has done nothing but light throwing since his injury, and this means he must intensify his throwing from 90, 120, and 180 feet in the outfield before throwing bullpens and pitching in simulated games with strict pitch counts. Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Price’s strength levels are where they were prior to reporting to spring training. If there are no setbacks, Price could start pitching in rehab games sometime in late May.

So with Price out until May, where are the Red Sox now? It has been reported that the team is looking to add starting pitching depth to the organization. There are health concerns surrounding others in the rotation. Drew Pomeranz has had left triceps tightness this spring, and knuckleballer Steven Wright is coming off a shoulder injury that he suffered in 2016. It looked like the Red Sox would have a three-headed monster in their rotation with Price, Chris Sale, and Cy Young award-winner Rick Porcello. Instead, fans are starting to ask the ominous question: why did we trade away Clay Buchholz?

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