David Ortiz customarily showers and dresses before he speaks to reporters after games. But he was standing at his locker waiting to talk shortly after the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays on May 31, 2014.
Rays ace David Price had drilled Ortiz with a fastball in the first inning, having waited more than six months to get revenge for Ortiz standing at the plate to watch a home run during a playoff game.
Price and Ortiz talked at the time and both said the issue was settled. But Price threw at Ortiz anyway.
“I have a lot of respect for the guy, man, but it’s over,” Ortiz said. “I mean; it’s a war. It’s on. Next time he hits me, he better bring the gloves. I have no respect for him no more.”
In blunt language, Ortiz went on to insult Price in various ways before stomping away.
Price responded a day later.
“Sometimes the way [Ortiz] acts out there, he kind of looks like he’s bigger than the game of baseball. That’s not the way it is, that’s not the way it goes,” he said.
Remember this in February when you see the photos of Ortiz and Price hugging and smiling during a spring training drill.
As the Red Sox search for an actual ace instead of yet another No. 4 starter, Price is the guy they want. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski traded for Price in 2014 when he was GM in Detroit and he wants him again.
Dombrowski was hired to get players like Price. After two last-place finishes, the Sox have little choice but to make a move like this. Tickets go on sale Dec. 12 and ownership will be motivated to sign Price by then.
It also makes sense from a baseball standpoint. Price has spent most of his career pitching in the American League East and won’t be intimidated by his surroundings. At 30, he’s in his prime and he has a track record of durability and success.
In Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Toronto, Price drew heaps of praise for being a good teammate and leader. He’s everything the Red Sox rotation lacked last season.
Yes, Price is 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA in the postseason. But it’s 63 1/3 innings, not enough to cancel out the rest of what he brings. The Red Sox have reached the playoffs once in the last six years, they need to worry about getting there first.
Does Price’s sour history with the Sox matter? Not really. Ortiz will retire after the season and he knows better than anybody that the Sox need an ace.
Whatever reservations Price may have will be buried under piles of cash. John Lackey, who hated Boston and Fenway Park as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, signed with the Red Sox before the 2010 season because they guaranteed him $82.5 million.
It will work that way for Price, too. It’s not that he won’t have other choices, but the Red Sox appear willing to go to $200 million. Dombrowski has been saying for weeks now that the organization understands the price of high-end pitching.
The Cubs appear focused on bringing back Jeff Samardzija. A reunion with the Dodgers makes sense for Zack Greinke. A second-tier starter like Jordan Zimmerman isn’t enough. Johnny Cueto is too risky.
Trade for an ace? The Sox cannot get an established No. 1 starter without giving up Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts. That’s not going to happen.
Price is who the Red Sox need. You watch, he’ll be hugging Ortiz like they’re family.
A few other Red Sox thoughts and observations:
■ The Sox have a big problem with the violence around Fenway Park. This story details a killing on Yawkey Way this week and the history of problems at Who’s On First, a bar that’s essentially part of the ballpark on game days.
There also was a shooting incident in September that shattered windows at Fenway.
The Red Sox can’t afford the Fenway Park area getting the reputation for being unsafe. How the city responds to these incidents will be worth following.
■ In case you missed it, John Farrell said on WEEI the other day that Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the center fielder with Mookie Betts going to right field.
If Bradley hits enough to keep the spot, it’s the best alignment. An outfield of Bradley, Betts, and Rusney Castillo will save runs in bunches.
■ Hanley Ramirez wants to play winter ball in the Dominican, something the Red Sox have the ultimate say on.
It’s an interesting question. In theory, Ramirez could play well and perhaps that inspires a trade. Or he could play poorly and that ends any trade talk. Worse, he could get hurt.
As to the idea that Ramirez is untradeable, Vernon Wells got traded from the Blue Jays to the Angels with $86 million on his deal.
■ Dombrowski, Farrell, Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo were among the Sox officials at the Boston College-Notre Dame game on Saturday. Football was a huge success at Fenway, perhaps to a point that the team could consider hosting a bowl game like the Yankees do.
■ It will be interesting to ultimately add up the cost of letting Jon Lester go.
The Red Sox botched up their negotiations with Lester in during spring training of 2014, making an initial offer of $70 million that was roughly $40 million short of what it should have been. Talks broke down and Lester was traded in July.
The Sox went downhill, Lester was traded for Yoenis Cespedes and that ultimately became Rick Porcello. Ben Cherington was ousted as GM and Dombrowski was hired.
Think about it. If the Sox had simply signed Lester for, say, $125 million, they would have saved Porcello’s contract ($82.5 million), whatever they’re paying Dombrowski (which, at a minimum, is probably $20 million) and whatever they pay for an ace in free agency, which could be $200 million.
In the end, not signing Lester could cost three times what signing him would have.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.