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Price responds as Eckersley dispute resurfaces

@IanMBrowne
July 17, 2019

BOSTON -- Two years ago, Red Sox lefty David Price set up a meeting to apologize to Dennis Eckersley for yelling at the Hall of Famer in front of his teammates on a team flight from Boston to Toronto. When Eckersley chose not to show up for the meeting, he

BOSTON -- Two years ago, Red Sox lefty David Price set up a meeting to apologize to Dennis Eckersley for yelling at the Hall of Famer in front of his teammates on a team flight from Boston to Toronto.

When Eckersley chose not to show up for the meeting, he said he just wanted to "move on."

And that’s why Price was angered on Wednesday by a profile on Eckersley in The Boston Globe in which the NESN analyst and former closer discussed the incident.

“I didn’t know how to deal with that,” Eckersley said of the incident. “I don’t plan on saying a word to him, I don’t plan on seeing him, never. I don’t really give a [expletive] one way or another. I don’t think he really cares one way or the other.”

Price cared enough to talk about it with the media prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays. He was asked what offended him about the article.

“The fact that it was two years ago -- over two years ago now,” Price said. “The fact that he wanted to move on and since then, he’s went on the radio and talked about it, [and he’s] done it again [now]. In 2017, I addressed it, told you guys in front of the camera that I wished I would have handled it differently. I did it again in 2018 in Spring Training on Day 1. Said the same thing.

“We had a meeting set up in 2017 here at the field. Got here early. Hour and a half, two hours after I get here, they come and tell me that he’s not coming. We had a meeting, he backed out. I was going to tell him, ‘I apologize, I didn’t handle it the right way.’ And it continues to come up. There’s no reason for it. Honestly, I just think it’s trash.”

The incident started when Eckersley was calling a game on NESN and uttered one word -- “Yuck” -- to describe a pitching line from Eduardo Rodriguez’s Minor League rehab assignment. That night, Price confronted Eckersley in a harsh way as he boarded the team’s airplane.

Price always has been fiercely protective of his teammates and makes no apologies for that. He’s admitted multiple times now that he should have handled his displeasure with Eckersley in a different way, but has never had the chance to say it face to face.

“I’m going to stick up for myself at all times,” Price said. “I don’t care what backlash I get, the negative attention, I’m fine with that. But I’m going to speak up for myself, stand up for myself and he either needs to move on or we can meet. One of the two. If he says he wants to move on, stop talking about it. That’s the way that I feel about it.

“That's absolutely what disappoints me the most. He wants to move on but he continues to go on the radio or do interviews about it. If you want to move on, move on. We're two grown men. We can meet. Ain't nothing going to happen. I yelled at you. I'm sure everybody in here has been yelled at. It was unfortunate that it happened. I wanted to tell him that face to face and he chose not to show up. So that was that."

How would Price like for Eckersley to handle the incident if he happens to be asked about it in an interview?

"I don't care,” said Price. “Say he doesn't want to talk about it. Like he said, he wants to move on. You want to move on? You move on. That's it."

At this point, Price doesn’t see the point in reaching out to Eckersley.

"I've already tried to reach out to him. If he wants to meet, we can meet. I'm fine with it,” Price said. “I'll apologize to him face to face. I've done it -- this is my third time now in front of the media. But I'm sure he'll speak about it again.

“It happened. I dealt with it. I moved on. He obviously hasn't."

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