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Price excited to fulfill Red Sox contract

After two years, pitcher finds comfort zone pitching for Boston
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It turns out David Price's left elbow isn't the only thing feeling more comfortable these days.

In a news conference during the official reporting date for the Red Sox on Tuesday, Price sounded more at peace with the Boston experience, and expressed near certainty that he won't exercise his opt-out clause at the end of the 2018 season.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It turns out David Price's left elbow isn't the only thing feeling more comfortable these days.

In a news conference during the official reporting date for the Red Sox on Tuesday, Price sounded more at peace with the Boston experience, and expressed near certainty that he won't exercise his opt-out clause at the end of the 2018 season.

"No, there's not," said Price when asked if he had any doubt he'd be with the Red Sox next season. "I came here to win. I knew how tough it was to play here and pitch here. If you can go out there and win, I know all the emotions and everything's going to be better in that positive light. I look forward to doing that."

That's good news for the Red Sox when you consider that Price's contract includes five more seasons.

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The first two years of that seven-year, $217 million deal weren't what Price had hoped for on the field, and sometimes off of it.

In 2016, Price led the American League with 230 innings, and compiled 17 wins and 228 strikeouts, but a 3.99 ERA was his highest for a full big league season.

He badly wanted to make up for it last year, and perhaps overdid it in Spring Training, leading to an elbow injury that limited him to just 11 starts. There was also a shouting match with a Boston reporter after a loss at Yankee Stadium in June, and some verbal barbs he aimed at Hall of Famer and Red Sox Broadcaster Dennis Eckersley on a team flight a couple of weeks later.

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"I could've handled it better last year, absolutely, but I didn't, and I've moved on," said Price. "I look forward to getting back this year and getting off on the right foot [with the media]."

After absorbing Boston for two years, Price has a better understanding of the environment, and has no regrets about choosing the Red Sox as a free agent.

"No. Not at all. Everything I've been through in the past two years, it's been a struggle, absolutely, but I feel like I've gotten better from it," said Price. "I've learned from it. I look forward to continuing to learn."

Price's story could evolve in similar fashion as it did for John Lackey, who started his time in Boston with struggles, injuries and issues with the fans, but wound up a World Series hero. Lackey, who clinched Game 6 against the Cardinals in 2013, exited to one of the loudest ovations at Fenway Park in recent memory.

"Go out there and win. Winning cures everything," Price said. "You can always make things better by pitching better. That's what I've got to do. Go out there and throw the ball the way I threw the ball before I got to Boston."

Before getting to Boston, Price was one of the best pitchers in baseball. And he now feels like he's ready to get back to that point, from both a mental and physical standpoint.

"I'm excited, I'm optimistic, and I feel really good," said Price, who has been working out in Fort Myers with a Red Sox trainer since December. "That's what I look forward to doing, getting out there being healthy, and enjoying the game I've always enjoyed. Go out there and give us a chance to win every fifth day, and after a year if I make 30, 31, 32 starts, I'm confident my numbers will be there."

Another thing Price is enthused about is new manager Alex Cora.

"They've been good. They've been light," Price said of his discussions with Cora. "It's casual conversation. It's not always about baseball, and I think that's good. We have a good relationship already, and that's talking more than just baseball."

Cora is confident Price can be a crucial factor in the Red Sox playing deep into October this year.

"Obviously I want to see him make 30-plus starts. That's the goal," Cora said. "It's been really, really cool talking to him. He's been in the World Series, but he hasn't been there since 2008. You start looking at the roster [and] there aren't too many guys who have been in the World Series. It's something that will push him. He wants to get there, and I'm looking forward to seeing him perform every five days."

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

Boston Red Sox, David Price