Everything is a perfect ‘10’ with David Price
FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price changed his uniform number from 24 to 10 during the offseason.
“You’ll figure it out,’’ a playful Price said a couple of times during his first media session at JetBlue Park Thursday morning.
Hmmm, No. 10. No. 10. Homage to the late, great Celtics guard Jo Jo White perhaps? Maybe a measure of respect for Rich Gedman, an underrated two-time All-Star from Worcester who caught for the Red Sox in the 1980s?
No and no. Price also said the number change has nothing to do with his Vanderbilt career, and it’s not owed to the fact that the Red Sox are aiming this summer for their 10th franchise championship.
Fans quickly cracked the code after Price issued the challenge Thursday morning. No. 10 is an homage to Price’s young son Xavier. X equals 10. Price confirmed the theory to the Globe’s Peter Abraham.
For Price, the number change is certainly more fun than talking about past playoff failures or yukking it up with Dennis Eckersley.
A Fenway pariah for much of his Boston career, Price is now a Red Sox hero after an autumn in which he went from Mr. Softee to Mr. October.
Price went 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA in October of 2018 and should have been World Series MVP.
“He flat-out carried us on his back,’’ Chris Sale said Wednesday.
Price started five postseason games, pitched once in relief, and seemed to be warming up in the bullpen every day. In 26 innings, he gave up 18 hits, struck out 23, and allowed opponents to bat only .194. He closed out the ALCS against the defending world champion Astros, stuffing Houston with six shutout innings, allowing only three hits while pitching on three days’ rest.
“You could tell it meant a lot to him,’’ said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
Against the Dodgers in the World Series, Price went 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in three appearances (two starts).
That led to his Nixonian media flip-off after the clincher in Los Angeles when he was asked about finally succeeding in October.
“I hold all the cards now, and that feels so good, that feels so good,’’ he said. “I can’t tell you how good it feels to hold that trump card. You guys had that card for a long time and played it extremely well, but you don’t have it anymore and that feels really good.’’
Thursday morning, when I started to ask what he planned to do with the trump card, Price interrupted and said, “Plus the jokers.’’
Feigning ignorance, I asked, “Who are the jokers?’’
“There’s 52 cards in a deck of cards, plus two jokers,’’ Price said. “Isn’t that right? Never mind. I hope some people will get that.’’
We get it. You have clowns to the left of you, media jokers to the right, you have earned the right to preen.
How does this change things for him in Boston?
“It doesn’t,’’ said Price. “Still playing baseball. Father, husband, son, friend, teammate. It doesn’t change.’’
Does he feel liberated by his postseason success?
“I mean, it felt good to go out there and perform on that level,’’ he said. “I know I have my doubters out there and whatnot, that’s fine. But I have no problem with the fans. You guys can drive that narrative if you want.”
He said he felt the love when the Red Sox paraded down Boylston Street on the duck boats.
“I definitely planned on being pretty tame out there,” he said, “and about a third of the way through, I told my wife, ‘We’ve got to get somebody to drive us home. I’m about to have fun.’ And I had fun.’’
Asked if baseball had stopped being fun during his first three Boston seasons, he said, “Not pitching well is not very fun.’’
But he said he never considered opting out of his contract, adding, “Have you seen the free agent market?’’
Price dodged the White House question, claiming no knowledge of the scheduled visit. Informed that the Red Sox plan to go to the White House May 9 after a series in Baltimore, Price said, “I’ll have to see what’s going on at the time.’’
Price is 39-19 in three seasons with the Red Sox. He led the majors in innings in his first season in Boston and was the team’s postseason MVP in 2018. He makes a barrel of money and has had a hard time winning the hearts of Red Sox fans.
But it was all hearts and flowers on Valentine’s Day 2019.
“Fans, I love you guys,’’ Price said as he stared into a row of TV cameras. “I have no problem with you. I get asked about you all the time. I’m sorry. I love you guys.’’