Price on spring debut: 'My legs were shaking'

March 3rd, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- , in his first game action since left wrist surgery in September, said he considered his Dodgers debut on Monday a success.

The linescore wasn’t as generous. Price was charged with two earned runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings in a 6-2 loss to the Reds.

“It’s been a while since I faced hitters wearing a different jersey,” said Price. “Where I’m at in Spring Training, two live [batting practices] and first outing, it’s very positive for myself. First time I’ve been in a game for six, almost seven months. My legs were shaking out there. If you love what you do, you’re going to have nerves and I definitely had them out there today. It was fun. I enjoyed getting back out there. Wasn’t missing by much. For the first time, I’m OK with it.”

Manager Dave Roberts seemed OK with it as well.

“He was just missing,” said Roberts. “I thought the ball was coming out good. Just to get him out there for a first outing, Dave’s going to be just fine.”

The Dodgers had to take Price -- and half of the remaining $96 million on his contract -- to pry from the Red Sox. Price said it doesn’t sting being known as the salary dump in the Betts trade.

“It’s OK,” he said. “This is a business. I learned that when I was traded from Tampa. I was naïve at the time, thought I’d be a Ray for life and Andrew [Friedman] broke my heart. Teams are going in different routes than they used to and some of it I understand, some of it I don’t. If I was in the owner’s seat, I try to wrap my head around it that way. No hard feelings on my part. My job is to play baseball.”

The Dodgers actually need Price to pick up innings with the departures of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda. Despite his Cy Young Award and ace-like salary, Price slots in at best as the No. 3 starter, well behind and , for now, ahead of (who also had a shaky Cactus League debut on Monday) and .

Price is coming off left wrist surgery for a circulation condition he said dates back to his days in Tampa, which ended in 2014 when current Dodgers president of baseball operations Friedman, then Tampa’s general manager, traded him to Detroit. Price said the surgery worked.

“Just having feeling in my fingers and my hands, not freezing cold, it’s got blood flow and it’s a different feeling for me,” he said. “It’s nice to have it this way. I think it’ll do a lot of good for me. Not having feeling makes pitching tougher than what pitching already is. To me, it was the norm. It was something I dealt with a long time.”

At age 34, Price is a different pitcher now than his Cy Young days, with a fastball that clocked 91-92 mph on Monday. But having abandoned the windup and gone back to the stretch exclusively, he said he was pleased with his pitches.

“Fastball felt good, cutter felt good, wasn’t missing in the middle of the plate and when I did miss, it was a very small miss, maybe up in the zone once or twice,” he said. "My best changeup was down in the zone, but with the action I liked. Everything is getting there.”