Red Sox

Drellich: Price's path to Boston redemption unfolding as he rehabs


Drellich: Price's path to Boston redemption unfolding as he rehabs

BOSTON — You can start to see it. Late innings, American League Championship Series. David Price on the mound.

We're trending that way.

Once it became clear Price was in position to return closer to the start of October than September, a different sort of path to redemption materialized.


Maybe Price will barely pitch in the regular season, if at all. Maybe he’ll be strictly a reliever in the postseason. Or maybe he’ll be able to build up his pitch count as the playoffs move along, and he can join the rotation after initially returning in relief.

Any amount of Price in the playoffs, be it for two innings or eight, is valuable. As long as Price is pitching like he’s capable of, or close to it. The debate over what role he’ll take is a little pointless — whatever you can get out of him, you take it. As long as the health of his arm has not led to diminished stuff and performance. (Rust is probably inevitable, but a rusty Price is better than a lot of others, and it's not like you have November to worry about.)

Turn to tandem starters if you want to, piggybacking Price off say, four innings of Doug Fister in Game 4 of the Division Series.

However it unfolds, the groundwork is here. It’s been there, clearly marked. 

The narrative about Price could swing rather dramatically this October. The lefty could take on a knight-in-shining-armor persona, swooping in just in time to give the Red Sox pitching staff the extra boost it will need behind Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel and an offense that doesn’t instill a lot of confidence.

Price on Saturday faced hitters for the first time as he comes back from his significant elbow injury this year. He threw a two-inning sim game at Fenway Park and his next step is another sim game, 

“Got through today fine: 32 pitches,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “As we intended to take care of the work today, which he was able to accomplish with no ill effects. A good step obviously in his progression to game activity. At a minimum, he’ll go through another sim game situation in the coming days, four or five days from now. That schedule has yet to be worked out given the day game on Thursday and time constraints with that. But today, a good day.”

Not all fans and media would immediately welcome back Price with open arms. Most probably would. But everyone should have an open mind and remember how capable a pitcher he is. A bad postseason record to date does not mean he cannot and will not, at some point, perform well in the playoffs. His track record gives you reason to doubt, but not reason to write him off completely.

If Price returns only as a reliever, people will still grumble and say, “Let’s see him do it as a starter.” That won’t be fair. He can only do what he’s asked, and what he’s physically capable of doing. If he's a reliever this postseason, accept it. 

What will matter is that Price, if given the chance, seizes it. And it won’t be easy having missed so much time.

“As he’s gone through this type of return before, it’s been with this type of intensity every fifth day,” Farrell said. “I think after the next sim game setting like this, we’ll have a chance to sit down and talk with him, what’s the best path as far as what the role could be. We’re not at that point yet.”

If Price gets hurt again and suffers a setback and winds up on an operating table, a debate about whether he should have sooner gone for surgery will ensue. If his UCL can hold up, he can help the Red Sox this October just as much as he can help his own standing in Boston.


Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy


Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is he had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator-cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole-body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”


Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition


Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.


“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”