ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price was on the disabled list at this time a year ago, limited to throwing only short distances because of a small ligament tear in his elbow.
Two doctors told the lefthander he didn’t need surgery, but it wasn’t until May 29 that he rejoined the rotation. Price lasted 11 starts before a triceps strain put him back on the DL for eight weeks.
Now Price is the No. 2 starter behind Chris Sale and starts Friday night against the Rays with no limitations other than what would be normal for the first start of the season.
With an eye on the entire season, the Sox restricted the workload on Sale, Price, and No. 3 starter Rick Porcello in spring training. Price started only three games against major league teams, throwing 12 innings. The rest of his work came in minor league intrasquad games with a predetermined number of pitches per inning.
Price feels better physically entering the season than he can ever remember.
“I feel like every year in spring training I have a two-week period where I just kind of take it easy,” Price said. “To not have that concern, to be able to work on stuff in bullpens and go out there and throw as hard as want in bullpens and in games, to be able to throw everything, that was perfect for me.”
After last year, Price is grateful to be in the rotation to start the season.
“This is what I’ve done my entire life,” he said. “This is the one thing that I know. To be able to do that for us in the beginning of the year and expect to do it for the entire year, it’s a good feeling.”
A healthy Price and the addition of J.D. Martinez stand as the two biggest improvements to a team that won 93 games last season.
“I don’t know what we’re not going to do well, and that’s good,” Price said. “I think we’re going to do everything extremely well. It might not be great, but I don’t think we’re going to be average or below average at anything.”
Price also has moved past the controversies of 2017. His interactions with the media — often tense for much of last season — are back to normal. Price has tuned out trolls on social media, too.
It’s a clean slate, as much as there can be one in Boston.
“Yeah, I view that as the same thing for every beginning of the season,” he said. “Everybody has a 0.00 ERA right now. This is an exciting time of the year . . . Ready to go.”
Eduardo Rodriguez, who is on the DL recovering from knee surgery, threw 67 pitches over five innings in a minor league game against Twins prospects in Fort Myers, then 15 more in the bullpen.
Rodriguez said his command was sharp and he could be ready with one more start.
Drew Pomeranz threw 60 pitches in a minor league game in Fort Myers on Wednesday. He said he is over the forearm strain that put him on the DL and is building arm strength.
The tentative schedule is for Pomeranz to pitch in a minor league intrasquad game in Fort Myers on Monday. From there, he could join one of the affiliates for a rehabilitation assignment.
“I feel like I’m getting close,” Pomeranz said.
Many moves made
Along with putting Pomeranz and Rodriguez on the DL, the Sox made a series of other moves to set their 25-man roster.
Lefthander Bobby Poyner and righthander Marcus Walden were added to the major league roster. Poyner was given No. 66 and Walden No. 64.
Infielder Marco Hernandez, who is recovering from left shoulder surgery, was placed on the 60-day DL.
Righthanded pitcher Austin Maddox (right shoulder strain), second baseman Dustin Pedroia (recovering from left knee surgery), and righthander Tyler Thornburg (recovering from right shoulder surgery) were placed on the 10-day DL.
A small grease fire filled Tropicana Field with a smoky haze 4½ hours before first pitch.
The fire was in a concession stand near section 308. Smoke was pouring from a vent in the stands behind first base.
Rays president Brian Auld said sprinklers extinguished the blaze and the game was not affected beyond that concession stand being closed.
The St. Petersburg Fire Department responded to the scene. Stadium workers, media members, and others with reason to arrive early for the game were kept outside until the situation was resolved.
No one already inside the building was evacuated.
Cora was in the visitors’ clubhouse when he heard the fire alarm. His reaction was what you would expect.
“I have to leave? Not now!” he said.
Thursday’s 6-4 loss against Tampa Bay snapped a three-game winning streak on Opening Day. The Sox are 58-59-1 in openers . . . Sale, who worked six scoreless innings, dropped his ERA to 1.93 in five Opening Day starts . . . Chris Archer, who allowed four runs over six innings, has a 5.49 ERA in 20 career starts against the Sox. His ERA against other teams is 3.63 . . . The Sox, who led the majors by having 81 runners thrown out on the bases last season, are at it again. Xander Bogaerts was doubled off first base in the fourth inning and Mookie Betts was picked off first when he strayed too far in the eighth . . . Principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner did not attend the game. Team president Sam Kennedy was on hand and took the coaching staff out for dinner on Wednesday.