David Price says he and Dennis Eckersley will ‘definitely talk it out’
Amid a swirl of controversy about both his conduct off the field and whether his health will permit him to stay on it, David Price spoke to reporters in the Fenway Park clubhouse for more than 10 minutes on Saturday. The remarks were his first both since he landed on the 10-day disabled list for left elbow inflammation and since revelations about his verbal confrontation with NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley created a firestorm around both the pitcher and his team.
Though Price missed most of the first two months of the season because of a forearm injury he encountered in early March, the lefthander downplayed concerns about the current state of his arm. Price, who is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts, said that the severity of his current injury merits little comparison with what he experienced in Fort Myers.
“I feel good, honestly. It’s not the same that went on in spring training. It’s nowhere near the extent of what happened on March 2nd,” said Price. “If spring training was a 10 out of a 10, this is a 1. It’s not what it was in the spring. I’m confident that I’ll be OK. . . . Just going on how my arm feels in everyday activity, whether it’s brushing my teeth or just using my arm in everything that I do. In spring training that was very limited in what I could do. Right now, it doesn’t limit me in everyday activity. It’s nowhere near what it was then.”
As such, he expressed optimism that a quick return to the Red Sox rotation may prove possible. If he stays on schedule to start throwing a ball again on either Monday or Tuesday, the lefthander believes his return to the rotation may prove relatively rapid. (He is first eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 4.)
“I’ve probably averaged over 100 pitches since I came back,” said Price. “My arm is built up to this point. It wouldn’t be a long process once I start throwing.”
While Price’s return to the mound has a chance to follow a fairly straightforward path, the fallout from his beef with Eckersley could prove more complicated to navigate. Price acknowledged that he could have found a better way to detail his grievances with Eckersley than to deride him in front of teammates on a recent charter flight, and said that he would speak directly with the Hall of Fame pitcher.
“We’ll definitely talk it out. . . . When he’s around, we’ll speak face to face. I’m sure you all will hear what’s said. That’s the way it goes,” Price said of Eckersley, who is in Cooperstown this weekend for Hall of Fame ceremonies. “I could have handled it probably a different way, but ever since that’s happened, he’s been really good. He’s said a lot of positive stuff about everybody in this clubhouse. This is one band, one sound. We’ve got to have everybody on board. That’s that.”
Even as Price suggested that he could have found a better way to express his objections to Eckersley’s candid and sometimes critical broadcasting style, the pitcher did not back away from his objections to the tone struck by the popular broadcaster.
“If Eck was around, he’d know who we are. He’s never in the clubhouse. Mr. [Jerry] Remy is always in here. Dave O’Brien is always around. Mr. [Mike] Timlin, on the road trip, always in the clubhouse. [Eckersley is] the one guy I’ve seen in my career that doesn’t ever show his face in the clubhouse. There’s a reason behind that,” said Price. “If you’re going to say what he says, you know, come around. Just show your face. And if guys have a problem with it, they’ll pull him aside. Be like, that ain’t how it’s done. This is not the first time this has happened here regarding Eck. It’s unfortunate that it happened and it did and we’re going to get through it.”
Asked whether he believed his strategy for outlining his grievances against the media had been an effective one, Price expressed the view that his actions have been to the benefit of the clubhouse.
“I know this clubhouse is a tight-knit group of guys. Everything that’s happened has not spaced us out or done anything of that nature. If anything, we’ve had discussions about it, we’ve rallied around it,” said Price. “I’m standing up for my teammates. That’s it.”
In his efforts to do so, Price said that he “absolutely” considered himself a leader within the Red Sox clubhouse, and was willing to court negative feedback if needed to demonstrate his support of his teammates.
“I talked to my dad this morning and he remembered whenever I got suspended in fifth grade for one day, for standing up for classmates,” said Price. “That’s who I am, that’s who I always have been, and that’s who I’ll continue to be.”
Price expressed the view that his actions have brought his teammates closer together, encouraging a form of camaraderie that may help the team get past one of its most difficult on-field stretches of the season.
“This [controversy] isn’t going to hinder us in any way,” he said. “It hasn’t caused us to play the type of baseball we’ve played. We just haven’t played good baseball and that’s that. Like I said before, this is a very hard game and it’s not always going to go your way. Whenever you go through a stretch like this, everybody’s going to have to come together and we do and when we get through this, it makes us feel that much better at the end of the year.”
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Here is the full transcript:
Q. How does the elbow feel?
A. “I feel good, honestly. It’s not the same that went on in spring training. It’s no where near the extent of what happened on March 2. I feel good.”
Q. Are you and [Dennis] Eckersley eventually going to talk this thing out?
A. “Yeah, we’ll speak when he’s here and in person. We’ll definitely talk it out.”
Q. How much do you think it’s affected the team?
A. “I don’t think that’s affected what we do in here at all. That’s not something that we talked about after it happened or any other time. I don’t think it’s affected us. We just haven’t played the type of baseball we’re capable of playing.”
Q. Is it one of those things you wish hadn’t happened?
A. “I could’ve handled it probably a different way, but ever since that’s happened he’s been really good. Said a lot of positive stuff about everybody in this clubhouse. This is one band, one sound. Gotta have everybody on board. That’s that.”
Q. How confident this injury is just short term?
A. “Yeah, I’m way more optimistic than I was in spring training. Spring training was 10 out of a 10. This is a one. It’s not what is was in spring. I’m confident that I’ll be OK.”
Q. Is it a different place in the elbow?
A. “I think it is in a different place. Just going on how my arm feels in everyday activity, whether it’s brushing my teeth or just using my arm in everything that I do. In spring training, that was very limited in what I could do. And right now, it doesn’t limit me in everyday activities, so it’s no where near where it was then.”
Q. How soon do you think you might be back?
A. “I feel like I’ve missed five or six already. Today might be the seventh, so I mean, I don’t think I’m going to be starting in three days. So yeah, I would have to say it would be more than 10 days. But we’ll play catch whenever it feels good. We did all the strength tests and the grip test and my strength and my grip were both stronger than what they were in spring training before I came back. All the signs are really good. Gonna take it a day at a time. Get all the treatment and take care of it.”
Q. Will it be different than back in March?
A. “I’ve probably averaged over 100 pitches since I’ve been back. Before it happened in spring training, I hadn’t thrown more than 30 pitches in an outing or hadn’t even made an outing to that point. I had one live BP and whatever happened in spring training. My arm is built up to this point, so it wouldn’t be a long process once I start throwing.”
Q. This team has been struggling the last three weeks. Are you confident the team can regroup and contend for the American League East?
A. “Absolutely. I still don’t feel like we’ve played our best baseball. We started playing really well right before the All-Star break. That’s usually what happens. You start playing well and then you have four days off before your next game. We’ll hit our stride. We’ll start playing well. Start doing all the little things extremely well like we expect to do. We’re in a good position right now. Obviously, we wish we were still in first place by however many games we were, but this is a very confident group. We’re all confident we’ll get back to it.”
Q. Do you expect [Dave] Dombrowski will make moves by Monday to improve the team?
A. “It’s kind of what Dave does. It’s what he’s known for. He’s always looking for ways to make the team better. I don’t think it matters if you’re in second place or first place in your division by seven or eight games. He’s always looking for ways to make our club better and that’s one of the good things about having Dave around.”
Q. You made it clear you don’t like many of the ways the team is covered. Do you feel like the strategy you’re going about expressing that is a winning strategy?
A. “Not too sure what you’re asking, but I know this clubhouse is a tight-knit group of guys. Everything that’s happened has not spaced us out or done anything of that nature. If anything, we’ve had discussions about it, we’ve rallied around it. I was standing up for my teammates, that’s it. That’s that.”
Q. Since the incident, the fans are upset.
A. “That’s the worst part about it. Fans hear what they say, they’re going to believe what they read and what they hear on TV and that’s not us. If Eck was around, he would know who we are. Never in the clubhouse. Mr. [Jerry] Remy is always in here. Dave O’Brien, he’s always around. Mr. [Mike] Timlin on the road trip, always in the clubhouse. He’s the one guy I’ve seen in my career that doesn’t ever show his face in the clubhouse. There’s a reason behind that.”
Q. What would you say to fans to clear the air?
A. “We’re plugging away. All the support that we get, both here at Fenway and on the road, it’s tremendous. Whenever we come in or go out on the road for BP, just to see the amount of fans that we have above our dugout compared to wherever we are, it’s always at least twice as many fans and they support us really well. They hold us on a very high pedestal and that’s the same thing that we do as well. But this is a very tough game and we’ll rally together and we’ll get through this.”
Q. What constructive criticism do you have for the media in the coverage of the team?
A. “I don’t know, man. That’s not my job. That’s what you guys do. I don’t know. I don’t have any constructive criticism.”
Q. Do you think it’s inappropriate for Dennis Eckersley to be critical of you guys?
A. “I guess that’s part of it. Every team that we play here, whenever they hear our broadcast, everybody in here’s always getting text messages on how, ‘That guy, he has to never be around.’ People know what’s going on. That’s just part of it. We’ll get through this. This isn’t going to hinder us in any way. It hasn’t caused us to play the type of baseball that we play. Just haven’t played good baseball and that’s that. Like I said before, this is a very hard game. It’s not always going to go your way. Whenever you go through a stretch like this, everybody just kind of has to come together and when we do, when we get through this, it makes it feel that much better at the end of the year.”
Q. Do you need to apologize to Dennis not for what you’re saying, but maybe the method?
A. “When he’s around, we’ll speak face to face. I’m sure you all will hear what’s said. That’s the way it goes.”
Q. What was the meeting like with Dustin [Pedroia] after the incident with Eckersley?
A. “It was good. We talked before he addressed the media yesterday. Told him whatever he needs to say to take it off of him. This isn’t about him. He’s a tremendous leader. The way he prepares, the way he’s ready to play every day, to everything that he’s going through with himself. That’s a guy that everybody in this clubhouse looks up to and for people to say whatever’s been said about him, they don’t know Pedey.”
Q. Do you consider yourself a leader in this clubhouse?
A. “Absolutely. Yeah. For sure. Stand up for my guys. Talked to my dad this morning. He remembered when I got suspended in fifth grade for one day for standing up for classmates. That’s who I am. It’s who I always have been and that’s who I’ll continue to be.”
Q. Do you feel like you’re standing up for yourself too?
A. “Honestly, I don’t. I don’t go back and watch the broadcast after I pitch. I honestly can tell you that I’ve never heard Eckersley say a bad thing about me. I never have. That had nothing to do with me whatsoever.”
Q. Just the fact that he’s not here, is that the biggest beef you have with him?
A. “I mean, if you’re going to say what he says, come around. Just show your face. If guys have a problem with it, they’ll pull him aside. That ain’t how it’s done. It’s not the first time this has happened here regarding Eck. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but it did and you get through it.”