David Price said the decision to sit out the 2020 season was the toughest call of his career.
When Opening Day rolled around and he was sitting at home, the decision got even tougher for Price. And when the Dodgers continued to advance in the postseason, including a World Series matchup against the Rays, the organization that selected Price with the first overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, the decision got even harder.
As he watched from home, there were times when Price thought about coming back, but he knew he didn’t have his arm built up. But as he watched Julio Urías strike out Willy Adames for the final out in Game 6 of the World Series, snapping Los Angeles’ 32-year championship drought, Price felt pure joy for his teammates. He also felt relief.
“To watch those guys all season long, and then to be able to win a World Series, that made me feel good. If it would’ve been any other outcome, I would’ve probably had a whole lot of regret and felt really bad about my decision,” Price said. “When Julio threw that strike three, it really lifted a weight off my chest.”
After spending last season as a spectator, Price is back to try and help the Dodgers repeat as World Series champions. He said that his preparation for the season started earlier than usual. Thus, he feels like he’s in a good spot with his arm heading into Spring Training.
But because Price will go more than 500 days between Major League starts, he knows there will likely be some rust.
“I feel like I’m further ahead now in Spring Training than I usually am,” Price said. “But haven’t thrown in a game situation or anything like that, but that’s what you use Spring Training for. Everything feels really good right now.”
The Dodgers will be mindful of the workload for every pitcher as they look to navigate through a 162-game season again. That especially applies to Price, though manager Dave Roberts thinks the left-hander will benefit from not pitching last season.
“I think, if anything, it’ll affect him on the positive side as far as on the physical,” Roberts said. “You know, I think on the emotional side, I think that there’s going to be some adrenaline, some nerves, which is to be expected. But I think David had a good 'pen [session on Thursday] and I know he’s willing to help us in any way. And just to kind of get him back working with our guys is just a benefit to everybody.”
With Price back in the mix and Trevor Bauer joining a rotation that already featured Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Urías, the Dodgers -- on paper -- have one of the best and deepest rotations in the Majors.
“We have some guys that can put up some zeros,” Price said. “And help the team win.”
Dodgers hopeful for fans at Dodger Stadium
The Dodgers, the governor’s office and local public health officials are working together to try to allow limited capacity when the Dodgers take the field for their home opener on April 9 against the Nationals.
“I hope, by Opening Day, we are finally going to have some fans in the park,” Dodgers team president Stan Kasten said in a video sent to season-ticket holders on Friday. “I don’t think it will be a full stadium just yet. But I do believe sometime during this season, the way things are looking, we will have a full stadium again.”
With the home opener more than a month away, the Dodgers are unsure just how many fans, if any, they’ll be able to have in the stands. The Dodgers are allowing 2,400 fans per game at Camelback Ranch this spring.
“As excited as I am, I’m sure the fans are a million times more excited to be able to get back out and watch us play the game they love,” said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who finalized his two-year deal on Friday. “I’m really excited for our fans to get into Dodger Stadium, hopefully, and experience all these new upgrades. The stadium is unbelievable. They did a great job. I think they’re really going to enjoy it.”
• Bauer, Urías, Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen, Victor González, Corey Knebel, Brandon Morrow, Scott Alexander and Garrett Cleavinger were among the pitchers who threw a bullpen session on Friday.
• When asked which pitchers have stood out during the first two full days of throwing bullpens, Roberts mentioned Knebel, Cleavinger, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Alex Vesia.