BOSTON — Drop the David-Price-didn’t-want-to-pitch act. Don’t play dumb about the importance of being able to feel a baseball in your throwing hand. Stop pretending that all Price needed was a pair of those dollar-store hand warmers that burn a hole in your mittens.
You’re right: If a baseball player loses a tooth, they’re probably not staying in the game. So if you want to go down the road of how tough baseball players are compared to, say, hockey players, have at it. But you’re not touching on the real issue.
Release point, finger-pressure and hand placement on the ball are all essential to pitching. So, when you hear David Price had numbness in his pitching hand on Wednesday when he lasted just one inning, how can you leap to a conclusion that he was just being soft, or weak, or that he didn’t want to face the Yankees?
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You want someone to throw a baseball they can't properly grasp? OK, you saw the results for one inning and four runs. They were hitting Price hard because he had no grip.
Price said Thursday night he has a circulation issue, and it’s not new.
"I talked to the doctors last night,” Price said. “They talked about a couple different things that we could try. It’s something I’ve always had, even whenever I was a little kid. My hands and my feet are two things that are always cold. Whenever it’s cold outside, it intensifies that.”
You have probably heard about blisters affecting pitchers, including Price in the past. Some guys seem to be more prone to blisters than others. You get why those are disruptive, right? You can visualize a raw, torn piece of skin on someone’s hand, and how that would be not only painful, but make it impossible to do what you hope with a baseball.
An absence of feeling in the hand can be an impediment to pitching, too.
Price’s next scheduled start will be in much warmer weather, with an extra day of rest. He’s been pushed back from Monday on Patriots Day at home, when the weather is supposed to be bad, to Tuesday in Anaheim.
In the long view, it is crucial that the Sox find a way to address Price’s circulation, if at all possible. The games he’ll be judged on most will be in October. It can be a bit chilly here, you know.
They have months to make sure Price can get through a playoff start, which will, of course, be handled differently.
Even if you hate that Price wasn't asked to get shellacked by the Yanks for another four innings Wednesday, remember that he and the Sox had reason to worry something else was amiss, too. Numbness could be caused by a nerve issue, or a variety of ailments.
“I knew it was nothing dealing with anything that went on last year,” Price said Thursday, referring to his elbow troubles. “I knew it was solely circumstances, and we’ll come out of this one feeling the way I thought I was going to feel.”
Regardless of that kind of confidence, a pitcher who can’t feel his hand should raise an alarm for a manager, for a training staff, and should prompt a quick exit.
Cora was asked before Thursday's game if a nerve issue could be at play, and he wasn’t sure. Price revealed the circulation matter after the game.
Price didn't get an MRI, Cora said. That's fine, so long as the Sox and Price have a firm, well, grip on the situation. They very likely know more than they're letting on publicly, as is often the case with health matters. And if they don't know everything they can yet, they absolutely need to dig in. No stone should be unturned with Price's health.
But when it comes to Wednesday, remember, there’s no reason Price would want to bow out of a game after all the crap he went through — and indeed, occasionally brought on himself — in his time in Boston.
The Red Sox are 10-2 after a 6-3 rubber-match win over the Yankees on Thursday. The rotation has a 2.01 ERA on the season. Price has contradicted himself in the past. He’s made mistakes in leadership. But he’s never appeared someone who doesn’t want to be on the mound.
Get a grip.