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.
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.