Price to start Boston's home opener
The 32-year-old left-hander will start the Red Sox home opener on Thursday — the second time in three years he has taken the mound for the team's Fenway debut. In 2016, he was a brand new, $217 million free agent penciled in as the team's ace for the next seven years.
Two years later — one of them wracked by elbow problems, Price is back, and rookie manager Alex Cora thinks he has reason to be optimistic about the season.
"Whatever happened here in the past, I can't talk about it," Cora said this week as the Red Sox finished up their season-opening road trip with a 5-1 record.
"We just have to concentrate on the future. He has been great. He is one of the leaders on this team. I'm very happy with him, and I'm glad he is pitching on Thursday."
Price went 17-9 with a league-leading 230 innings in 2016, his first year in Boston, but was limited by elbow injuries to 11 starts last season. He missed the first two months of the season and then went back on the disabled list in July before returning in September without enough time to build up the arm strength to return to the rotation.
He made five relief appearances down the stretch and two more in the playoffs, pitching 15 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
"I think he turned the page in October the way he pitched. He was amazing," Cora said. "He was the best pitcher in the playoffs. He proved to everybody who he is when he's healthy."
With Chris Sale serving as the ace of the staff, Price (1-0) started Boston's second game this year and held Tampa Bay scoreless in seven innings. His turn comes up again against his former team, which had not named a starting pitcher for the matinee opener.
It will be the 107th opener at Fenway Park. The ceremonies will include an F-16 flyover by the 134th Fighter Squadron in Vermont's Air National Guard, known as "The Green Mountain Boys."
Cora said his mother will be in the crowd to see his first game in Boston.
"It's going to be a special one," he said. "It's going to be great for the fans, to see them finally after a great road trip."
Although Wednesday's day off was rainy, the skies were expected to clear for Thursday's game. But forecasts called for a strong wind and temperatures in the low 40s.
"Opening day is always fun," outfielder Mookie Betts said, "although it's not fun when it's 40."
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