Price unlikely to be ready for start of season

Price unlikely to be ready for start of season

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that left-hander David Price is likely to start the season on the disabled list.

"I think at this point, yeah, it would be hard to see him ready to go at the start of the season," Farrell said before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays. "We really won't have any kind of idea until he gets on the mound the first time and right now, I don't know when that's going to be."

Price has been sidelined since he felt discomfort in his left elbow following a two-inning, 38-pitch simulated game on Feb. 28. He left camp on March 3 to consult with Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The doctors' findings were that Price would not need surgery or an injection.

Price on positive injury news

Price has been throwing with limited intensity for a few days.

"Played catch again today as he's been the last three days," Farrell said. "And everyone's going to want to know what's the next step, what's the next phase. I will tell you, this is going to be dependent upon how David goes through the morning rehab, and the exercises that he goes through, what he feels he's capable of that day within reason.

"So we're at a 60-foot phase right now. But we don't have [a plan in which] there needs to be X number of sessions at 60 feet then we're going to progress. It was at the doctor's recommendation: Do not put him on a structured throwing program because it may be either too quick or too slow depending on how he feels. And a lot of what's driving this on the daily throwing schedule is how David feels."

Price began throwing on Saturday, with 25 tosses into a net.

Dombrowski on Price's importance

"The last few days he's played catch with another guy," Farrell said. "But that doesn't mean the intensity is ramped up at all.

"Just basically getting the arm moving. A net, someone with a glove in their hand, it's still 50, 60 feet, it's not with any kind of intensity. The plyometric routine that he goes through in the morning, these are all designed to get his arm moving. I don't know that there's any significance one way or the other."

Although Farrell has not made an official announcement, right-hander Rick Porcello, as the reigning Cy Young winner, would have been the likely Opening Day starter even before Price's injury. Price and left-hander Chris Sale are both on the record as saying they thought Porcello deserved the honor after the season he had in 2016.

Outlook: Porcello, SP, BOS

But the quality of the Red Sox's starting pitching depth becomes more important with Price's injury.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright and left-handers Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez had been vying for the remaning two spots in the rotation, before Price's injury. The easy assumption is that the trio would now take the remaining spots. But, they have all been slowed by injury this spring.

Wright made his first Grapefruit League start on Monday, going two perfect innings against Toronto. Pomeranz made his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday. He went two innings, giving up two runs on two hits including a home run. Rodriguez has made three starts, giving up three runs over nine innings.

The remainder of their depth is also questionable. Left-hander Roenis Elias is less than a week into a three-week shutdown with an intercostal strain. Lefties Henry Owens and Brian Johnson struggled this spring -- as they have in Major League callups in the regular season -- and both were optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday. Right-hander Hector Velazquez, signed out of the Mexican League, has made three appearances, including two starts, giving up seven earned runs over seven innings.

Kyle Kendrick, the veteran right-hander in camp as a non-roster invitee, has been perhaps the most promising of the bunch. He has made four appearances, three starts, giving up three runs on nine hits (including two home runs) and three walks with 10 strikeouts over 13 innings.

Now would be a good time for any in that group to step up and claim a spot in the rotation.

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Although Price finished last season with his highest ERA (3.99) since 2009, he still ranked among the top five in the American League in wins (17), innings (230) and strikeouts (228). Factoring in his elite ceiling as well as the current injury concerns, Price should be regarded as a low-end No. 2 starter in mixed-league drafts. With Price set to miss the start of the season, owners could look to Eduardo Rodriguez as a fine sleeper pick. The most likely option to take Price's rotation spot in early April, the 23-year-old Rodriguez delivered a 3.24 ERA with 79 K's in 77 2/3 innings after last year's All-Star break, and he can be picked in the late rounds of drafts this spring.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.