Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (May 2, 2018 – Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)
The last month or so has not been an easy time for Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price. The highly-criticized southpaw suffered yet another hand injury, with the Red Sox calling it carpal tunnel. The injury forced Price to be scratched just one day before his start against the rival New York Yankees. The timing of this injury has led some to question the authenticity of this injury. While the injury came at a bad time, David Price’s strange hand injury is not a conspiracy. It’s a serious issue that the Red Sox and Price need to be extremely cautious about moving forward.
Breaking Down David Price’s Strange Hand Injury
No, he’s not faking it
Before we get into what the hand injury means, let’s dispel a foolish notion. Some claim that David Price is faking his injury to get out of facing the Yankees, a team which he’s historically struggled against. While Price’s numbers against the Yankees are troublesome, there’s no reason to believe this injury isn’t legit.
For one, he’s had similar issues before. Price has had poor hand circulation his whole life, and that fact was never a big secret. That was always part of the deal with Price. Additionally, Price’s circulation issues plagued him back in 2015 with the Detroit Tigers. Circulation issues arose then, and nobody was calling Price a liar.
Secondly, the Red Sox training staff actually diagnosed something. Like, they didn’t just call it a random hand injury, they diagnosed it by carpal tunnel. It’s a real thing that affects grip, which is obviously important to a pitcher. Price reported the symptoms to manager Alex Cora, and Cora decided to test it out. It’s a good thing he did.
If Price was faking this, then shouldn’t his numbers look more like what he posted in his first two outings? In Price’s first two starts of the year, the lefty pitched 14 scoreless innings, striking out 10 while allowing just one extra base hit.
Since then, it’s been ugly. In Price’s five starts since the hand issues first appeared, he’s posted an ERA of 8.22 while allowing a .305/.394/.543 slash line. The advanced statistics back up these terrible numbers. Quite frankly, these are the numbers of either a career minor leaguer, or somebody playing injured.
What to do with Price?
Now that we’ve established Price isn’t faking it, how should the Red Sox move forward with Price? While the injury appears minor, it’s clearly affected him over the past month. Basically, the Sox could go one of two directions. Either manager Alex Cora could try to rush Price back for as many starts as possible, or he could wait to get the best Price possible, even if that means missing one or two starts.
So far, everything about Cora’s managing style suggests he will take the cautious route with Price. Cora’s decisions have always come with the long-term view in mind, whether that’s utilizing rest days for his position players or by not making starters pitch deep into games early in the season.
Frankly, taking it slow with Price is absolutely the correct thing to do. It’s a 162-game season, and the most important thing should be getting as many games out of the good David Price as possible. If it were September, this would be a different story. However, it’s only May, and the baseball season has just begun. Having a healthy David Price for 15-20 games is far more important than having a gimpy Price for 21-23.
Price’s recent outings have shown that the hand injury is drastically impacting his ability to perform. Contrarily, his first two outings of the season show just how good he can be when everything’s working right. Alex Cora needs to make sure that everything possible is done to get the early-season Price back on the field. If that means waiting to put him on the field, then so be it. When healthy, Price is a crucial part of a ferocious three-man rotation with Chris Sale and Rick Porcello. That trio has the potential to carry the Red Sox to a championship, and the biggest priority should be having all three healthy and ready to go in October.