Why is David Price making things so difficult?

Rob Bradford
May 25, 2017 - 3:10 am

David Price chose not to speak to the media after his rehab start Wednesday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price didn't do his job Wednesday night.

It had absolutely nothing to do with the less-than-comforting results the starter rolled out in his second rehab start with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Sure, giving up six runs on seven hits over just 3 2/3 innings in what many figured would be his last tune-up before re-entering the Red Sox rotation tested the organization's optimism.

But the actual pitches and performance are different conversations.

Price has to understand that life as a member of the Red Sox' starting rotation includes some expectations. And part of that equation includes not driving away from the McCoy Stadium parking lot with cameras, notepads, and tape recorders in the hands of the assmbled media, simply asking for any kind of explanation regarding what transpired when executing the job he is paid to do (and the media is paid to report on).

This doesn't mean Price is a bad guy or a uncaring teammate. It also shouldn't do anything to define what kind of pitcher he is, or will be. And perhaps Price not even sending out a tweet to "ask Manager Kevin" (Boles, that is), doesn't matter to many. Certainly, any rehab assignment executed in his previous stops in Tampa Bay, Detroit or Toronto wouldn't necessitate offering a few brief updates for the media.

It's simply about making it clear what should be expected. This is Boston. Price is a big part of what is an important slice of New England sports fans' financial and emotional investments. 

It's something Josh Beckett can attest to.

Beckett has lived through the same frustrations Price is most likely feeling these days. Nearly seven years ago, the former Red Sox pitcher also left a rehab assignment with the PawSox without talking the media, having to catch a flight for the All-Star break. (According to regulars in Pawtucket, there were others who have also exited without interviews, mostly due to being pulled from action before media availability. This time, the media was in position to interview Price before he hit the road.)

The uneasiness with Beckett also led to a media shutdown, starting after a start in Miami on June 11, 2012.

"I was just like, I don't know how much longer it is going to go on, but I'm done," remembered Beckett while talking via phone from his Texas home. "There were no answers. I was going to get beat up one way or another. Maybe that's where David is at. It gets to the point where it doesn't matter what you say. The material is already there. Maybe that's where David is at."

Beckett doesn't know Price, personally. But he understands how it can get to the point where the Red Sox starter certainly seems to be headed now. The difference being that the former Sox pitcher was at the end of his tenure with the team, while Price has been entrenched for just more than a year.

And while Beckett can sympathize with Price perhaps more than those watching the pitcher pull away from McCoy, he also realizes what might be the best approach when it comes to living life as a member of the Boston Red Sox starting rotation.

So, what would he tell Price if asked to relay advice?

"I think parameters are big," said Beckett, who designated the day after his starts as his media availability. "Also, if I was sitting there talking to them, I would say make it as boring as possible. That way people don't want to talk you."

Being boring? That's up for interpretation. The parameters thing -- which Chris Sale has seemingly politely implemented between his starts -- would be a good start to head back down the right road. For instance, the throng of media understood what those parameters were when they drove down to Rhode Island, that would have been helpful.

"You have to do that when you first get there. You have to set a standard," Beckett said. "You can't just all of a sudden change your deal. [Kevin] Millar was amazing when I went there because he was like, 'Look, this is what's going to happen. You're not going to see it at first, but you need to set parameters as to when you're available.' I said, 'I'll talk after my starts and I'll talk the next day.' That was key."

If Price pitches well going forward, few will care if he addresses his situation in 140 characters or while shouting it out a window. But there doesn't have to be so much room for interpretation.

It's not difficult, and it's part of the gig. This time around, Price failed to recognize either part of the deal.

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