David Price and Dennis Eckersley should meet — and get this over with
David Price has been part of the Red Sox organization for almost four years now. He is a 33-year-old with a wife, a son, and another child on the way.
He’s also an important member of a team that should get blown up at the trade deadline if they don’t start playing better right away because they are beyond painful to watch at this point.
Price knows better. He has to know better.
Yet he took to Twitter at 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday and decided to offer his opinion to 1.8 million followers on a recent feature story about NESN’s Dennis Eckersley written by the Globe’s Chad Finn.
The 3,757-word piece contained a 258-word passage about an incident between Eckersley and Price in 2017. Price disagreed with a comment Eckersley made about teammate Eduardo Rodriguez and ambushed him on the team plane, yelling at him in front of the rest of the players.
In the story, Eckersley is quoted saying he doesn’t plan on seeing Price ever again or talking to him.
“I don’t really give a [expletive] one way or another,” Eckersley said.
Price has said several times over the last two years that it was the wrong thing to do and apologized for his actions. He then helped the Red Sox win the World Series and swung much of the fan base back into his corner.
But Price couldn’t resist poking the social media bear. He replied to a Tweet referencing Eckersley’s quotes about him with a string of laughing emojis.
Eight minutes later, Price responded to a question about why the old incident had resurfaced by writing, “Because ECK needs attention!! Same as every broadcast ... hahah 8 pitches are thrown and he’s sitting there talking about something he did 30 years ago (with zero mention of what’s going on).”
Later in the day, Price spoke to reporters at Fenway and again acknowledged he had made a mistake two years ago. He also regrets that a planned meeting with Eckersley never took place.
“I was going to tell him, ‘I apologize. I didn’t handle it the right way,’ ” Price said. “It continues to come up. There’s no reason for it. Honestly, I just think it’s trash.”
Had his comments ended there, it would have been fine. But Price attacked Eckersley by saying it was telling a recent MLB Network documentary about the Hall of Famer included none of his former teammates.
“To me, that’s all you need to know,” Price said. “That tells the entire story right there. My teammates will vouch for me. My coaches will vouch for me. He doesn’t have that, so he has to vouch for myself.”
The documentary, in fact, featured several of Eckersley’s teammates and was, by design, intended to be more of Eckersley reflecting on his career and tumultuous personal life.
But that is really all secondary to the idea that the third-place Red Sox have better things to do than rehash a two-year-old dispute.
Eckersley could have told Finn there was no point in further discussing the incident and passed on commenting. Price could have held his fire on Twitter.
“It sucks that it keeps coming [up],” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, speaking for many.
I think there’s a part of Price that likes the ruckus. He engages more on social media than all of his teammates put together and he’s never been afraid to voice an opinion. Mixing it up fuels him for whatever reason.
“I’m going to stick up for myself at all times,” Price said. “I don’t care what backlash I get, the negative attention. I’m fine with that. I’m going to speak up for myself. I’m going to stand up for myself.”
So many professional athletes are determinedly bland, so good for Price for not being a robot. But this was one time he needed to just let it go.
Cora doesn’t feel it will be a distraction in the clubhouse and he’s probably right. Half the players on the active roster weren’t around for the original dispute and the other half probably don’t much care.
“I think we’ll be fine,” Cora said.
But days like Wednesday feed into the notion that the Sox haven’t been properly focused since spring training. Too many side issues — the White House visit, Dustin Pedroia’s status, Steven Wright being suspended, fussing for weeks over whether to keep Blake Swihart, etc. — get in their way.
Here’s an idea. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and NESN president Sean McGrail should order Price and Eckersley to meet at Fenway Park on Thursday and say what has to be said behind a closed door.
If they don’t want to do that, John Henry should. Get this over with.
“We’re two grown men. We can meet,” Price said.
Please do. Everybody has had enough.