Red Sox

Price pitches two no-hit innings out of Red Sox bullpen

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Price pitches two no-hit innings out of Red Sox bullpen

BOSTON — David Price's fastball still has the juice he’s shown all year when healthy. The lefty pitched in relief for the first time since joining the Red Sox in a 3-2 loss against the Rays on Sunday afternoon, touching 96 mph at Tropicana Field. He struck out two in a pair of hitless innings.

Price handled the seventh and eighth innings, his first work in a major league game since July 22. That day, he made his final start ahead of his second trip to the disabled list this year for an arm injury.

Price on Sunday didn’t seem to be shying away from either his breaking ball or change-up — the pitches he told The Athletic contributed most to his latest DL stint, because of discomfort felt in the lower triceps.  

Per MLB.com's pitch classification, Price threw four curveballs and four change-ups. Of his 21 pitches, 15 were strikes, and he needed just seven pitches in his first inning of work.

The choice to put Price in the bullpen appears the safest, and does help out a group of relievers who could use another big arm. But whether he is most valuable as a starter, and whether his effectiveness is any greater in relief, are more complicated questions

How Martinez rose from ashes of Astros release to Red Sox stardom

How Martinez rose from ashes of Astros release to Red Sox stardom

Good things come to those who wait. And while it’s hard to knock the results of the Houston Astros’ “process,” a new piece from Sports Illustrated details how J.D. Martinez has them wishing they waited a little longer.

Coming off an age-25 season that saw him hit just .250 with a .650 OPS, Martinez was desperate to change in 2013. After all, with limited speed and a below-average glove, Martinez’s bat was his livelihood.

“J.D., you’re not even a career .700 OPS hitter,” said then-Astros hitting coach John Mallee. “You don’t steal bags. You’re not a Gold Glover. You have to hit… You can make enough money to live off of, at least until you become too expensive to keep around. But that’s it. Unless you change something.”

After studying perennial All-Stars like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Ryan Braun, Martinez realized his entire swing needed an overhaul, and turned to Astros teammate Jason Castro for advice. Martinez’s journey with Castro is a long one, taking him from Houston to California to Venezuela and, finally, to Kissimmee, Florida, home of the Astros’ Spring Training complex.  

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With a new swing in his toolbox, a revamped enthusiasm and energy, and a desperation to prove himself, all Martinez needed was an opportunity. But the Astros didn't oblige. Houston -- coming off a 111-loss season -- released Martinez after just 18 exhibition at-bats, not even seeking anything in return. Martinez couldn't make the worst team in the league.

Instead of sulking, however, Martinez was motivated -- driven to make the Astros' lack of confidence in his adjustments haunt them.

"You guys are going to see me," Martinez told Houston teammates José Altuve and Dallas Keuchel after being released. "Don't worry about it. I'll be good. I promise you."

Martinez caught on with the Detroit Tigers and the rest, as they say, is history. He used his new swing to slug his way to the top of a myriad of offensive categories and now, four years after being released, there is perhaps no more feared slugger in baseball than Martinez, who has two more home runs (37) than his team has losses (35).

Martinez’s road to the top has been long, but serves as a reminder that in a sport increasingly driven by data, the game is played by humans, and not even the most thorough algorithms can compute a human’s drive to succeed.

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