FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boston Red Sox left-hander David Price is likely to start the season on the disabled list because of his sore pitching elbow.
Starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contract, Price has not yet appeared in an exhibition game.
“I think at this point, yeah, it would be hard to see him ready to go at the start of the season,” Manager John Farrell said before Tuesday’s game against Toronto. “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.”
Boston had hoped for a formidable rotation headed by Price, Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and newly acquired Chris Sale, acquired in December from the Chicago White Sox.
Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner with Tampa Bay, was 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA last year. He felt discomfort in his left elbow following a two-inning simulated game on Feb. 28.
Drs. James Andrews and Neal ElAttrache said Price would not need surgery or an injection but should take anti-inflammatory medication and rest his arm. Price started throwing on Saturday, making 25 tosses into a net, and has thrown each day since.
“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 doctors’ 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 daily throwing schedule is how David feels.”
FIRST ROUND OF CUTS: With nearly three weeks to go in spring training, the hierarchy of the Red Sox pitching staff already appears to be settled.
Lefties Brian Johnson and Henry Owens both packed up their lockers in the major league clubhouse on Tuesday morning after being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Reliever Brandon Workman, outfielder Junior Lake, infielder Rafael Devers and catcher Jordan Procyshen rounded out the initial cuts.
Owens walked 12 hitters in 71/3 innings in Grapefruit League games and has been tasked with simplifying a delivery he has not been able to repeat. That work began Monday under the supervision of Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis, who stayed back from Boston’s game at Dunedin to work with Owens.
“We’re just trying to minimize the movement and create some consistent direction and release point when he’s out of the stretch,” Farrell said. “There’s an abbreviated delivery now. Yesterday was the first use of it.”
Johnson rode the bus to Dunedin but did not pitch on Monday, an indication that the innings he needs were going to have to come in minor league games rather than big league games. He walked six hitters in 62/3 innings in Grapefruit League games and has work left to do on regaining the optimal arm slot that has eluded him since his 2015 arm injury.
The injury to Price has clarified the Red Sox starting rotation to open the season, barring any further subtractions: Rick Porcello on Opening Day, followed by Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz.
With Johnson and Owens reassigned and Roenis Elias injured, it has become clear that veteran Kyle Kendrick is the first starting pitcher in line should a need arise in the big-league rotation. Kendrick has a 2.08 ERA with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 13 innings pitched in Grapefruit League games.
“The way Kyle Kendrick has thrown the ball, that’s been very encouraging,” Farrell said.
Newly acquired righty Hector Velazquez remains in big-league camp as a dependable strike-thrower with a repeatable delivery who has routinely made 30-plus starts in the Mexican League.