David Price’s tenure with the Dodgers didn’t start as he expected.
After being traded with Mookie Betts in 2020 from the Boston Red Sox, the former Cy Young Award winner sat out his first season in L.A. because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, he was asked to serve in a swingman role last year, making 11 starts and 28 appearances out of the bullpen — he had a 4.03 ERA overall — as the Dodgers tried to work around injuries on their pitching staff.
This spring, the 36-year-old is hoping to rediscover more of his old form. And early in camp, he’s at least preparing for a potential return as a full-time starter.
“I’m preparing that way, yeah,” Price said. “I think it’d be silly of me to prepare to be a reliever and [then] I’m asked to start. So preparing to be a starter until otherwise.”
Price seems likely to be the odd man out of the five-man rotation, behind Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Andrew Heaney and Tony Gonsolin.
Manager Dave Roberts, though, hasn’t shut the door on the possibility of Price crashing that group, saying Wednesday that the five-time All-Star is “in the mix” for one of the spots as spring gets underway.
“I’m confident in David in any role,” Roberts said. “I think David, the last couple of years with injury, 2020 missing that year, so for him to pitch huge innings for us in various roles was big. So I think for him, I don’t think it matters the role for him, just knowing that he’s going to pitch valuable innings in whatever role.”
While the days of Price being one of MLB’s premier pitchers are long gone, the left-hander feels like he’s in a good place this spring.
Last year, he had to slowly rebuild his stamina after a season away from the game, struggling with inconsistency. Over his final 14 outings, he posted a 4.85 ERA. In the postseason, he never appeared in a game.
During the first week of this spring, he’s already made positive impressions with his work behind the scenes.
“The stroke this spring is a grade and a half better than it was coming into last spring,” Roberts said. “I think he’s healthy and expect him to be even better than he was last year.”
Wherever Price winds up, he’ll be asked to help navigate what should be a tricky start to the season on the mound.
Because of the lockout-shortened camp, starting pitchers likely won’t be completely ready by opening day on April 8. That means the rest of the staff will have to shoulder more of a load early on. And even if Price isn’t in the rotation, he could still be an important long reliever.
“The No. 1 thing is to build these guys up, keep them healthy and see where it falls out later,” Roberts said.
Added Price: “I told them, same as last year, just whatever I can do that’s going to help us out the most, or put us in the best position to win, that’s what I want.
“I’m here to prove myself. I haven’t thrown my best baseball for the Dodgers, and that is something I look forward to doing. I want to earn [it]. I don’t want to be given anything. I want to go out there and I want to earn it.”
Dodgers re-sign Shane Greene
The Dodgers are bringing back right-handed reliever Shane Greene, signing him to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.
Greene, 33, is an eight-year veteran with a career 4.52 ERA and one All-Star selection in 2019. After posting an impressive 2.60 ERA with the Atlanta Braves in 2020, Greene struggled mightily last season. He was cut by the Braves after 19 outings, in which he gave up 16 runs in 17 innings. He finished the year with the Dodgers, making nine appearances before being released in late September.
Regular-season schedule changes
Major League Baseball finalized its regular-season schedule Wednesday, including several changes to the Dodgers’ slate as a result of the lockout.
The Dodgers will make up a four-game home series against the Colorado Rockies (which was originally supposed to be their season opener) by playing one game at Dodger Stadium on July 6 and three more October 3-5, at the end of the season.
They will make up a three-game home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks with doubleheaders on May 17 and Sept. 20, when Arizona was already scheduled to be in town, and another game on Sept. 19.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism