Posted on March 22, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been roughly three weeks since Boston Red Sox lefty David Price was shut down after experiencing elbow soreness during a simulated game, but it doesn’t appear as if he’s all that close to getting back on the mound. Price was lucky to avoid a serious injury that could have forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2017 season. However, an exam of his elbow on Tuesday revealed that he’s been slow to regain strength in his elbow, meaning he’s not yet ready to begin a throwing program.
Tuesday’s exam indicated that Price’s arm is weaker than it was at the start of spring training, meaning he has a long way to go to get ready for the season. Since being shut down three weeks ago, Price has done nothing with a baseball in his hand except some light tossing. The longer he goes without starting an actual throwing program, the more time he’ll miss during the regular season.
“Strength gains have been had, but we’re going to continue to stay in the strengthening phase of this,” explains Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’re continuing to get his arm moving in the cage, in the workout room. But as far as initiating a full-blown throwing program, we’re not at that point yet. We’re getting closer. That’ll be happening ideally in the coming days.”
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However, the Red Sox aren’t sure when Price is going to be given the go-ahead to resume a throwing program. If he were to start throwing within the next few days, he could potentially return to the rotation by mid-April. But the more time passes, the more likely it is that Price won’t pitch in the majors this season until May at the earliest.
“You go into these kind of open-ended – you’re not really sure what specific day it’s going to take place,” says Farrell. “You don’t really attach yourself to a calendar. You’ve got to listen to the pitcher’s situation, how his body is responding and what the objective tests are telling us. He’s getting closer to getting a ball back in his hand.”
Judging by Farrell’s comments, the Red Sox remain optimistic that Price will begin a throwing program soon. But he still has to wait until the results of his strength test match the results he had at the start of camp. When Price received word that he wouldn’t need elbow surgery, he and the Red Sox couldn’t have predicted it would take this long to resume throwing.
With Price ruled out for the start of the season, Rick Porcello will pitch for Boston on opening day, followed by Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz are in line to round out the rotation, but both are a little behind this spring because of injuries, which could force the Red Sox to include Kyle Kendrick in their rotation at the start of the season. The injury question marks surrounding Price, as well as Wright and Pomeranz, have the Red Sox searching for rotation depth less than two weeks from opening day.
Coming off what he considered (as did most others) a disappointing season in 2016, this is not how Price wanted to begin the 2017 season. To make matters worse, there’s still no timeline on his return and no guarantee of when he’ll be able to begin a throwing program. It’s getting more and more likely that Price won’t make his season debut until at least May, which has the potential to frustrate the former Cy Young winner and hurt the Red Sox early in the season.