Coffee and conversation with David Price at 6:45 a.m.
(Editor’s note: An occasional series in which the Globe commutes to work with a Boston athlete.)
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s rainy and dark when Red Sox pitcher David Price bounds into the local Starbucks in a T-shirt, shorts, backward baseball cap, and untied Jordans.
“Oh, he’s a love,” says the barista.
Price never uses the drive-thru; he always comes in and gets an iced coffee and two boxes of hot coffee to go.
He aims to please, telling a photographer that he’ll drive to the ballpark with the dome light on in his Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV because it is still 15 minutes before sunrise. The first thing he says is that he wants to win a world championship with the Red Sox.
Q. Do you believe in karma?
Q. You bring coffee for the team every day?
A. Yeah, I bring two of these for the training staff.
Q. That’s pretty thoughtful.
A. Those guys, they get there early. They stay there really late. They’ve got longer days than probably anyone in the organization.
Q. I guess everyone wants to know about your dog Astro. He’s getting up there, isn’t he?
A. Astro is now 7. He had back surgery this offseason. One of his left vertebrae near his back leg wasn’t firing right. So we went in and had surgery for him and he made a full recovery. The only thing he’s missing now is the hair on his back isn’t grown back all the way, but it’s getting there.
Q. Does he go on the field at Fenway?
A. He has a couple of times last year. One of our clubhouse guys, Murph, takes care of both of our dogs [when the team goes on the road]. They love Murph.
Q. How many kids have you got?
A. Expecting our first kid May 22. Expecting a little boy.
Q. And the name?
A. Xavier. Actually, it’s supposed to be an off day in Boston. So if it works out, that would be awesome. If it comes a couple of days early, we’ll be in Oakland.
Q. I liked your tweet about Tom Brady. (“I stole Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey and I’m gonna sleep with it every night so his greatness rubs off!! Don’t tell him though.”) What did you learn from him?
A. Oh man. He’s always focusing on the present. He’s not worried about the past. He’s not worried about the future; he is worried about the task at hand. You could see that when they were down 25 points. It was pretty special. He’s a special player for sure.
Q. (On the topic of speeding up baseball.) The Toronto general manager is talking up seven-inning games, and there’s another proposal to start extra-inning games with a man on second. What do you think about that? Are you a traditionalist?
A. I am. I feel that would possibly take away jobs from bullpen guys. Clubs might feel like they don’t need all those bullpen slots and carry extra bench players. The runner on second base, I think it’s silly. It’s something we did in Little League.
Q. Are you sorry you spoke up about some of the racial stuff that happened in Boston?
A. No, I’m not sorry. I think racism is still here. And by “here,” I’m not saying here in Boston. I’m saying in the world today. I’m not sorry. What do I have to be sorry for?
Q. Do you remember the 2008 game you pitched against Pedro Martinez in the minors?
A. Oh yeah, I do. I went seven innings, gave up two hits, no runs. We won and I just remember the comments he made.
Q. He said you were amazing.
A. Yeah, after that game, it was really cool, saying that when he was my age how much further along I was than him. That was a very neat thing to have a Hall of Famer say that.
Q. You also once introduced (then-Democratic nominee Barack) Obama (the day after the Rays won Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston in 2008.)
A. They said, “All right, David, you are going to introduce Mr. Obama.” And I was, “No, I’m not.’’ And they were, “Oh yeah you are.’’ And I did it. I was terrified.
Q. Do you think athletes should talk about other things besides sports?
A. If they want to. We have the platform to do that. I feel a lot of us are a lot more intelligent than people realize. We don’t just play a sport. We went to college. If guys want to speak up . . . they just need to be educated on that topic and know what they want to say.
Q. Does this Trump stuff bother you?
A. Oh, I don’t listen to it. That’s not for me.
Q. Do you feel there’s less pressure this year because of the acquisition of Chris Sale and Rick Porcello coming off his Cy Young season?
A. I didn’t feel any pressure last year. I wanted to pitch really well because I was coming to a new team. It wasn’t because of the contract. I don’t know how much money I made last year. I don’t worry about that stuff.
Q. Why are people on your case? You won 17 games. For most anyone on earth, that’s a good season.
A. Nah, I don’t feel like I had a very good season. I definitely did a lot of things well. I made 35 starts; I’ve never done that in my career. I led the entire baseball, led the entire league in innings — 220-something strikeouts . There are a lot of people that would do a lot to have that season. But for me, in this city, that ain’t nowhere near good enough. I definitely understand that and I’ll do everything I can to be better.
Q. Larry Bird used to go home and work on one thing every offseason to try and get better. Did you do something like that?
A. Commanding that fastball. You got to be able to command it. You’ve got to keep it out of the middle of the plate and on both sides of the plate, and that’s something I’ve done extremely well my entire career. And that’s something I did not do so well last year.
Q. What about driving in Boston. Is it crazy?
A. It’s awful. Drivers are terrible. In the years that I’ve been there, I’ve known three people to get in wrecks. My buddy’s wife had to have surgery a couple of years ago. She got into a wreck in Boston in a cab and it messed her back and her neck up.
Q. Have you ridden the bike in Boston?
A. I don’t live in the city, no. I used to always ride the Hubways. I would always rent that Hubway outside of Copley Place and ride it to Fenway.
Q. What was it like driving a bike in Boston?
A. Oh I loved it [but] you have to have your head on a swivel if you are going to do that. Something bad can happen, that’s for sure.
Q. What about Jordans? Why do you love them so much? You bought the team a pallet of them.
A. They’re sweet shoes, man, and it was a very exclusive group to be a part of in baseball. I think there are only seven of us. It was something I wanted to be a part of.
I just had a whole bunch of them at home. My wife just packed up 200-something pairs of them. Yesterday my parents came and picked them up and they’re going to take them to church and high schools and middle schools around our house and just give them away.
Q. What is your passion?
A. I have a foundation, Project One Four. That’s one of the things that honestly chafed me about being in Boston — with the reporters, not one time did anybody take the time to get to know me or my foundation or anything I do away from the field?
I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of cool people that are a lot less fortunate than I am. Giving back, putting smiles on people’s faces. So we put up two miracle league fields for kids with disabilities to go out and enjoy the game of baseball. It’s going to change a lot of people’s lives.
It’s something I was part of when I was in Tampa. I know how much joy it brings to these kids and these kids’ families. It’s pretty special.
Q. One of your heroes is Satchel Paige, right?
A. Oh yeah.
Q. So Satchel Paige always said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” So why are you still looking behind you on this 0-8 (playoff record) thing?
A. It’s what’s going to be said. If I say it first, what do you have to say about me? You have nothing to say about me personally. That’s the only thing you have to say.
Q. Tell me something about you that people don’t know. Surprise me.
A. People in Boston don’t know anything about me. The only thing I have to do is pitch good. People don’t care about what I do or the type of person that I am. That doesn’t matter.
Q. It matters to me.
A. It doesn’t matter to these people in Boston. I’ve got to go out there and earn respect by pitching well. Period. That’s the only thing that’s going to turn the page for me in Boston. I’ve got to go out there and dominate. People don’t care what I do off the field.
Q. You don’t think they care if you’re a good person or not?
A. No, no chance. They don’t care. If they care, I wouldn’t have went through all that crap that I went through last year. If they cared. Period. You have to be in my shoes. If you lived it . . .
Q. What size are your shoes?
A. 13½. If you lived it and you told me they cared, OK. If you experienced it on a day-to-day basis — everything —
Q. You’re David Price, the human being.
A. Oh, I appreciate that, but you’re not everybody in Boston.
Q. So how do you change that? You’re not helping yourself if you’re going on vacation in Hawaii and you’re tweeting about your 0-8 (playoff record) to some guy who’s jealous of you.
A. I’m going to continue to be a good person on a day-to-day basis. I’m going to continue to treat people the way I expect to be treated. I’m going to respect people. I have fun on Twitter; Boston is not going to change that. I don’t care. I’m not going to change to come here and change to please people in Boston. No chance, man.
Q. We can do something about it. People don’t know you’re bringing coffee to the trainers at 6:45 a.m.
A. People don’t care. I’m going to catch crap for bringing in Starbucks — sorry this is not Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m going to catch crap for that 100 percent. I could quote John 3:16 right now and I would get nothing but negativity. Period. You can’t please everybody.
Q. Aren’t you giving Internet bullies ammunition?
A. Ammunition? Oh, I don’t worry about it. I know I’m going to be great in October at some point. I work too hard. I want it too bad. It hasn’t happened yet. I know it’s going to happen.