FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A new team, a new set of catchers and a new challenge — by now, it’s all become rather old for Boston lefty David Price.
Price is pitching with his fourth club in little over 18 months, having signed a $217 million, seven-year contract with the Red Sox as a free agent.
The 2012 AL Cy Young winner with Tampa Bay finished second in the award voting last season when he went a combined 18-5 with a league-leading 2.45 ERA for Detroit and Toronto.
Price is 6-1 at Fenway Park and his 1.95 ERA in Boston is his best at any stadium where he’s pitched more than 10 innings.
There is a good comfort level, too, with catcher Ryan Hanigan, who was with Price in Tampa Bay in 2014. Hanigan has been helping the young Red Sox catchers — Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, who are vying for the starter’s job — get accustomed to catching Price.
“It’s very important to have the six or seven weeks in spring training to get out there, to throw bullpens with these guys, to throw live BP and to get into games so they can learn me a little bit more, I can learn them, we can get on the same page,” Price said. “That’s very key whenever you’re out there on the mound to be on the same page with your catcher so you can get into a rhythm.”
Hanigan says Price makes things easy.
“He’s one of those guys who knows what he wants to throw on the mound,” Hanigan said. “He’s very prepared and committed to his pitches. With a veteran guy, that takes a lot of responsibility off the catcher in terms of calling the game. He’s real confident. So for me with David, you never have to question his focus or his preparation. It’s just trying to get him into that rhythm where everything’s coming out right.”
There are other benefits to Price’s presence which the Red Sox hope to reap. One is the effect they hope he will have on the other pitchers who follow him in the rotation and also on the younger players on the roster.
The Red Sox are hoping Price can help them reverse their recent fortunes. Boston has finished last in the AL East for two straight seasons and three of four.
“Good players make your job easier,” manager John Farrell said. “We got a good player in David Price. So we also know that there’s been a big investment in David for who he is as a person equally to who he is as a pitcher. So we don’t expect anything but a positive impact that he’s going to make in all ways.”
On Friday, the first official day for the team’s pitchers and catchers to workout, Price spent some time working with Eduardo Rodriguez, the young lefty who could be in the Red Sox rotation to start the season.
“That’s why he’s got such a strong reputation as the teammate that he is,” Farrell said of Price as a mentor. “So in the early camp here that’s going to happen naturally or organically.”
Price is also looking forward to being on the same team — and mending some fences — with David Ortiz, who is not yet in camp. The two clashed, on and off the field, over the years over perceived slights and showboating.
“I’m ready to be his teammate and his friend,” Price said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to. I want to be accepted by all my teammates and that’s something you need to have if we want to get to where we need to be.”
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