Boston Red Sox

Price's latest 'slowdown' raises questions of what he's dealing with

Price's latest 'slowdown' raises questions of what he's dealing with

Just look at the calendar. Assess where David Price is in his rehab process.

June is creeping in.

Whether Price suffered a setback in his return from a left elbow injury is really a semantics question. Easily, you can say he did.

Sox manager John Farrell on Thursday morning told reporters in Toronto, including the Herald’s Michael Silverman, that Price has had a “slowdown.”

Obviously. Whatever. Both words -- slowdown, setback -- come to mind.

“It was the highest volume and intensity of work relative to the previous weeks that he’s been going through rehab,” Farrell told reporters. “Maybe a little bit of a slowdown, but certainly not a setback and back on the mound tomorrow.”

Here’s the bottom line: You don’t add extra days in between planned side sessions if things are going as hoped.

Last week, the Red Sox thought this week -- the one that is about to end -- could be the time Price started to face hitters. He did not.

The Sox thought Price might throw his breaking ball off a mound on April 12 and then again Saturday. He didn’t.

Now, Price on Friday is slated to throw his fourth bullpen session, and his first since Saturday.

Farrell acknowledged Price has dealt with some soreness. That’s strange. Two days ago, Farrell told reporters Price wasn’t sore.

My goodness, what else would keep him off the mound?

Considering it’ll be six days between bullpen sessions, this isn’t a dramatic turn. Recoveries can have ups and downs.

But there’s also nothing encouraging about this pace Price is on, and it again opens the door to questions of what exactly he’s dealing with. Because the team has offered nothing and Price has said he doesn’t actually know.

How many slowdowns mean they never get where they want to go?

If the conservative, non-surgical treatment fails, how bad this could be for the Sox and Price depends on what procedure Price would actually undergo.

Clay Buchholz, beloved ex-Sox righty, had surgery to repair the flexor pronator mass -- his forearm. The recovery there is typically 4-5 months.

If Price faces the same surgery, the Sox have no reason not to keep on this path. He can keep trying, and if need be, go for surgery in the fall and be on target for next spring training.

But if this rehab has been about the ulnar collateral ligament, the Sox and Price have been playing with fire.

If the surgery would be a ligament replacement or include it  -- if it would be Tommy John surgery -- the Sox and Price will have lost 2018 (or virtually all of it) and ensured that he won’t opt out.

Drellich: John Farrell fighting himself when it comes to bullpen roles

Drellich: John Farrell fighting himself when it comes to bullpen roles

CLEVELAND — John Farrell is fighting himself. More than he might realize, he’s willing to mix up his bullpen usage in a way that’s smart. But in some of the most crucial innings, Farrell will stubbornly and perhaps reflexively revert to tradition and a false sense of role — one that actually runs counter to the logic the manager employs at other times.

Look at the big cat, Craig Kimbrel, who was again left in the bullpen Monday night as the eighth and ninth innings deteriorated in a 5-4 Red Sox loss to the Indians. 

It’s all about the inning with Kimbrel, you see — or in Monday’s case, it's a matter of when Farrell would have been forced to use him.

“On a night where if I use Kimbrel tonight, he's got the need for one, if not two days off,” Farrell said. “That's why you need the contributions from everyone.”

But the indication was Kimbrel was available for a save, or perhaps the 10th inning when the lineup turned over again. If he needs rest, rest him. Farrell did not say that Kimbrel was down entirely.

But the eighth inning? No, that’d be lunacy.

“I know that there’s this overriding thought that you can just drop Craig Kimbrel in anywhere from the sixth inning to the ninth inning,” Farrell said Friday. “And with all due respect, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just that. We’ve used Craig for four outs or more this year. And there’s a willingness to do that. 

“But when we’re completely rested down there, there are roles that guys have performed very well to. And there’s a reason why our bullpen has excelled to the point they have. There are roles that are established and they pitch to them.”

Seriously, what roles? The roles change as often as Farrell’s logic defending them, aside from Kimbrel’s overwhelming need to be in save situations.

The Sox were not “completely rested” on Monday, for one. Addison Reed was unavailable entirely.

But step back for a moment, and look at the overall usage of the reliever who initially got the Red Sox into trouble Monday in the eighth, Matt Barnes. 

The righty this year has pitched in the sixth inning three times. He’s been used in the seventh inning 18 times and the eighth inning 29 times, including Monday. 

Another nine times, Barnes has pitched in the ninth or later. Fourteen times, he’s made multi-inning appearances.

Does that sound like a rigid role to you?

When Farrell spoke recently of his plan for using Reed and Barnes, it sounded pretty darn progressive.

"Addision, we’ve initially said it’s the eighth inning," Farrell said. "We’ve used him accordingly based on where we are in the lineup and based on the potential of running threats. … As we map out the seventh and eighth inning, it’s going to be Barnes and Addison and we’ll see where the right matchups provide themselves.”

So what matters more, lineup position and running threats, or what inning it is?

Depends which reliever Farrell is talking about on which night, or maybe which way the wind is blowing.

For Monday night, Barnes all of a sudden was a reliever with a role.

“On a night when not everyone's available, [Barnes is] the one that has had the most experience in the eighth inning against both lefties and righties,” Farrell said.

Experience in a particular inning, now that’s the primary factor for Barnes? What about the fact Barnes has been terrible on the road lately?

What about the fact that Brandon Workman has a 1.40 ERA, or that Farrell said before the game Workman is now in the high-leverage mix?

Workman gave up a leadoff double on Monday in the ninth inning. He might have blown the eighth inning anyway. Farrell also prefers a clean inning for Workman, and wanted to avoid using the righty Monday for workload reasons as well.

But Workman was, indeed, available. So why let extra innings or a tie game in the ninth force you to use him, as opposed to pitching him at a time he perhaps could have protected the lead?

Workman in the eighth could have thrown in place of either Barnes or Heath Hembree. The latter’s done worse than anyone on the Sox with inherited runners and came on to try to clean up Barnes’ mess. Workman has six inherited runners this year and none have scored.

But Workman has a role. Except he doesn’t. Or if he does, it’s as loosely defined as everybody else’s, save for the guy who can only get saves.

Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

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Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

CLEVELAND - Brandon Guyer scored when first baseman Brock Holt threw away Roberto Perez's bunt in the ninth inning, lifting the Cleveland Indians over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

After Guyer's leadoff double against Brandon Workman (0-1), Holt fielded the bunted ball and tried to throw out Guyer at third. Guyer slid into the bag as the throw skipped past third baseman Rafael Devers, then got to his feet and raced across home plate. Teammates ran onto the field and doused Perez with water and white powder.

Perez also had a three-run homer in the second inning.

Cody Allen (1-6) allowed Christian Vazquez's leadoff single in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters. The inning ended when shortstop Francisco Lindor ran down Mookie Betts' popup in center field with his back to home plate.

Cleveland relief ace Andrew Miller left in the seventh inning after aggravating the patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Miller recently returned after over two weeks on the disabled list with the knee injury.