Before we get into the David Price dilemma, allow me to bring up two former Red Sox.
Nomar Garciaparra often didn’t like the questions from the media, especially when he struggled. He usually retorted, “Did you ever play the game at this level?”
He once directed that line to me and I replied, “No, Nomar. That’s why I’m asking your perspective.”
Then there was the time in 2003 when I approached another Red Sox infielder after a game. Second baseman Todd Walker made a costly error. I walked up hesitantly and asked what happened. For a second I thought Walker was going to erupt, but he simply was disappointed – about the play, not the question. He calmly explained what happened, what he wanted to do and the mistake he made. The question wasn’t a personal attack and Walker didn’t take it that way.
Baseball, as we are often told, is a game of failure. You make mistakes. How you handle them says a lot about your character (a humble reminder for many of us). The best advice about failure I’ve heard is to be accountable, learn from it and move on.
Which brings us to Price and his less-than-stellar rehab performance Wednesday night in Pawtucket.
Price lasted only 32/3 innings (89 pitches), allowing six runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk, striking out four.
Yes, it was only a rehab appearance. Price is working his way back. There are going to be bumps. What does he still need to work on? What went right? Does Price feel he’s ready to go?
Basic questions but Price couldn’t be bothered.
Knowing a group of reporters wanted to talk to him, Price scoffed at spending five minutes for a press conference and took off.
Now let’s get one thing straight: If Price pitches six solid innings Monday for Boston in Chicago, no one is going to sweat the fact he blew off the media last Wednesday in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
But there are concerns.
When Price signed with the Red Sox, three thoughts came to my mind. First, it was a good signing because Boston needed a top-line starter. Second, it reinforced the opinion that the Red Sox blew it by letting Jon Lester go. And third, I thought of a postseason game in 2013 when Price pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Price’s postseason troubles are well-publicized, and that October, in the division series, he gave up seven runs in a loss to the Red Sox. Price was upset during the press conference after the game and while walking away, mumbled something to the effect of “nice questions, nerds.”
But Price wasn’t done. He didn’t like the critiques of his performance by two TBS commentators and so he went to Twitter, writing: “Dirk Hayhurst … COULDN’T hack it … Tom Verducci wasn’t even a water boy in high school … but yet they can still bash a player … SAVE IT NERDS.”
Price skipped the optional workout the next day, which would have given him a chance to explain. He did, however, apologize on Twitter.
One must wonder if Price is cut out for the spotlight, whether it be postseason or a baseball fanatical town like Boston. His former Rays teammate, Carl Crawford, couldn’t make it at Fenway.
Price, from all reports, is a good guy; thoughtful, engaging with his teammates and generous in the community.
But is Price thinking too much? Does he see questions as accusations? And if he hears criticism, is he able to distinguish comments about performance vs. personal attacks?
There is understandable concern about Price’s health and his ability to help this Red Sox team. He needs to understand that. When he blows off an expected press conference, people wonder if he cares.
Yes, he’s a human being with feelings, but he’s also a baseball player who signed a seven-year, $217 million contract. That comes with responsibilities. No one expects David Price to be perfect.
But he should, at least, be accountable.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: