David Price is scheduled to make his first minor-league rehab appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday. However, the forecast calls for heavy rain and there's a chance the game gets postponed.
If that's the case, manager John Farrell said that Price will still get his work done in Pawtucket, but rather than in-game, he'll throw a simulated game or bullpen session instead.
"In any event with weather, he'll get his work done there," Farrell said. "Whether it's in the game, whether it's inside in a simulated-type situation, the workday will be had. The setting might be a little different, but at least he'll get up to 75 pitches in some setting."
It's important Price stays on a five-day schedule as he builds back up while rehabbing. A side session on Sunday will ensure that. The lefty has been out since March with a left elbow strain. Either way like Farrell said, Price is schedule to throw 75 pitches on Sunday and will likely need at least two more rehab appearances to get into a comfortable 90-95 pitch range.
With no setbacks, Price should be able to return to the Red Sox rotation by the end of May.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are working toward getting back Price ahead of time by optioning Kyle Kendrick after his most recent start, meaning the club is only working with four starters right now. Boston doesn't need a fifth starter until May 20 because of Monday's off day. It's likely Price won't be ready that soon, but the Red Sox may need just one spot start to bridge the gap before Price is ready to return.
The Red Sox are handling this situation the right way; Price is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he is at the top of his game. Especially with something as fragile as an elbow injury for a pitcher, rushing someone like Price to get back to a big league mound as soon as possible could backfire real quick.
The 31-year old southpaw threw 230 innings last year, a career high with one team. He won’t come close to that mark this year, but on the contrary, this starting rotation has been sufficient so far early on in 2017.
Leading the way has been Chris Sale (1.92 ERA), followed by Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez who have both been dominant at times, but the bats offensively haven’t always been there for starting pitching to start the season. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz has also had a couple of good starts followed by a couple of bad outings thus far. With Kendrick being sent back down to Triple-A Pawtucket, he might not be the answer.
At the end of the day, you're trying to win as many games early on so you have a chance to win the AL East. At the same time it’s tough because you’re battling with clubs like New York and Baltimore who are red-hot on fire right now.
The real question the Red Sox need to ask themselves is can a four-man rotation get you to June-July? Sure Price might be back toward the end of May, but will probably still have some limits and “training wheels” still on. However, once you get to those “dog days” in the summer in June and July, Price will eventually be back in full swing to help this rotation down the stretch to help the Red Sox get back to the postseason once again.
Then again, their offense hasn’t looked good at all. Only time will tell for these defending divison champions.