Healthy David Price anxiously awaits his first appearance of the season on Friday against the Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – David Price looked comfortable and satisfied where he enjoyed so many highlights early in his career.
Ironically, Price made his 2008 playoff debut at Tropicana Field against Boston. The southpaw was the game-winning pitcher in Game 2 and won Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, as Tampa outlasted the Red Sox in a seven-game classic to reach the World Series.
Nine years and over 260 appearances will have passed before Price begins for the Red Sox for the first time in 2018 on Friday. He will start the 7:10 p.m. game against Blake Snell of the Rays, hoping to put the injuries that have haunted him throughout the past year in his rearview mirror.
“It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Price said. “It’s the only thing I know. Being able to do that for us from the start of the year and hoping to do it all year round is a good feeling.
Elbow problems sidelined Price for the final month of spring training in 2017 and limited him to just 11 starts. He was used out of the reliever box in the AL Division Series loss to Houston and is eager to join a rotation that also includes former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and perennial contender Chris Sale.
“We have a great defense,” Price said. “Our three voltigeurs are all extremely strong. Our infield, our receivers, our enclosure – I don’t know what we’re not going to do well, and that’s good.
Price had a solid spring with the Red Sox, allowing just five hits and striking out 13 in 12 innings of work. More than the results, the way he feels physically encouraged Price to enter the third year of the seven-year deal he signed with Boston before 2016.
“I feel like every year in spring training, there are about two weeks where I have to calm down,” Price said. “Not having that this year, being able to work on stuff in the bullpen pens, being able to go out there and throw as hard as I wanted in the pens and in the games, be able to throw everything – that was different for me. . I enjoyed it.
Walden, Poyner ready for debut: It was a particularly special Thursday afternoon for two members of the Red Sox box.
Marcus Walden and Bobby Poyner had never been part of an opening day roster before the 4pm first pitch against Tampa Bay. The two took markedly different paths to reach this point, with Walden struggling through three seasons of the Winter League ball and Poyner rising steadily after being selected by Boston in the 14th round of the 2015 Draft.
“I was going to keep playing until they took the shirt off me, honestly,” said Walden.
“I’m so happy with how my progress in the minor leagues went with Boston,” Poyner said. “They were great.”
Walden was drafted in the ninth round by Toronto in 2007 but was pushed back down the pecking order after a front office reshuffle and elbow surgery on Tommy John. He was part of the Unaffiliated Atlantic League in 2015, but the unwavering support of his wife, Nichole, and a finely cut fastball have given the right-hander a new lease on life in his professional life. Walden struck out 86 catches in 105-2 / 3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket last season, serving as both a starter on the spot and a long reliever.
“The cutter has really helped a lot,” said Walden. “I’ve been releasing it regularly for four or five years now, and the last two years it’s really come back.”
Poyner made the jump after 16 appearances with Class-A Salem and another 27 with Double-A Portland last season. The southpaw allowed just 39 hits and struck out 84 in 60-1 / 3 of innings, a momentum he maintained until the spring when he allowed just one earned run in 10 appearances. . Poyner credited Brian Johnson, a Florida Gators alumnus, with helping him lead him in late February and early March.
“Everything from running certain things in the clubhouse at certain locations to hotel business, he’s always my go-to guy, whatever my question,” Poyner said.
Around the bases: Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Drew Pomeranz (flexor strain) and Eduardo Rodriguez (knee) both continue to make progress in their rehabilitation. Pomeranz threw in a side session on Wednesday while Rodriguez threw 60 to 70 pitches during an outing in Fort Myers on Thursday. Dustin Pedoria (left knee) also stays with the club while returning from off-season cartilage restoration surgery. … The Rays sold their 13th straight home opener to begin their 21st season as a franchise. Tampa suffered an 11-6 loss to Detroit in its debut on March 31, 1998, as Damion Easley, Luis Gonzalez and Joe Randa all hammered three hits for the Tigers. Wade Boggs scored half the Rays’ points, including a two-run homer in the end of the sixth inning.