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Healthy Price may be key for Red Sox

Rebound season for lefty ace could make all the difference for Boston
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The transaction wire doesn't show one of the biggest re-additions the Red Sox should have in 2018. It comes in the form of a healthy David Price, which Boston didn't have for most of last season.

For all of the reasons to be excited about Spring Training -- which starts officially on Feb. 14 -- the biggest for Boston is Price.

BOSTON -- The transaction wire doesn't show one of the biggest re-additions the Red Sox should have in 2018. It comes in the form of a healthy David Price, which Boston didn't have for most of last season.

For all of the reasons to be excited about Spring Training -- which starts officially on Feb. 14 -- the biggest for Boston is Price.

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"We're expecting David Price to have an outstanding year," said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "When you have a rotation of Price, [Chris] Sale and [Rick] Porcello as your top three, you're going to be dominating."

Price, a five-time All-Star, was limited to just 11 starts last season due to left elbow woes. But he did return in time to put on two dominant displays of relief pitching against the Astros in the American League Division Series, which the Red Sox lost in four games.

• Price's elbow feeling good heading into camp

Video: Browne on what to expect from Price in 2018 season

"He singled-handedly almost beat the Astros in the playoffs, and the way he threw the ball with conviction, I'll take that," said new Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the bench coach for the Astros last season.

• Under Cora, Red Sox head to camp with title hopes

Cora looks forward to being able to hand the ball to Price every fifth day in a rotation that also includes a six-time All-Star in Sale and an emerging lefty in Drew Pomeranz, who is coming off a 17-win season. If Porcello can bounce back from an inconsistent season and Eduardo Rodriguez makes a strong recovery from his right knee surgery, Boston could have a loaded rotation.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Perhaps the Red Sox don't get enough credit for winning 93 games last year despite Price missing approximately 20 starts. If he can make 30 to 33 starts this season, the Red Sox should feel good about their chances to return to the postseason for the third straight year.

Given Price's importance to the team's outlook in 2018, look for his first few bullpen sessions and live batting practices in camp to generate plenty of media and fan attention. Everyone will want to catch a glimpse to see what his stuff looks like after a productive winter.

Price should be a cornerstone if he can build off the momentum he created late last season. To that end, he hasn't experienced any arm issues this offseason. In fact, he is already at Spring Training, more than a week before pitchers and catchers have their first formal workout.

In December 2015, the Red Sox signed Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

The lefty displayed strong durability in his first season with the Red Sox with an AL-leading 230 innings, and he also had 228 strikeouts. He finished that season 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA. In his 11 starts last year, he was 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA

Price would be the first to acknowledge that he can do better. Red Sox fans haven't seen him at his best yet for a full season, but there's still plenty of time. That quest starts at Spring Training, as Price will start healthy and try to stay that way wire to wire.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, David Price