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Inbox: Will Price have comeback year in '18?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers fans' questions
March 27, 2018

With the Red Sox set to open the 2018 season on Thursday, it seemed like the perfect time to empty the Inbox.Can you see David Price having a big comeback year? -- @bostondave37 via TwitterAt this point, there's no reason not to think so. He threw the ball well for

With the Red Sox set to open the 2018 season on Thursday, it seemed like the perfect time to empty the Inbox.
Can you see David Price having a big comeback year?
-- @bostondave37 via Twitter

At this point, there's no reason not to think so. He threw the ball well for the entirety of Spring Training and had an extremely productive offseason rebuilding his arm strength. You can tell just by Price's demeanor how optimistic and encouraged he feels.
:: Submit a question to the Red Sox Inbox ::
Which Sox players seem likely to benefit most from the new hitting coach's philosophy? Assuming they're measuring resulting changes in launch angle, etc., are there any preliminary results that show differences from last year?
-- @SteveStrobridge via Twitter

Andrew Benintendi is my top pick to benefit from the new approach of "hunting" for a good pitch to smack early in the count. Benintendi has hit some mammoth homers in Spring Training. Once Mookie Betts gains more comfort with the approach, I also think he will thrive.

Predictions, please?
-- @quevieking via Twitter

Xander Bogaerts is going to have his best season, and by a lot. Benintendi will be an American League MVP Award candidate. Chris Sale will win the AL Cy Young Award he just missed last year. J.D. Martinez will lead the AL in RBIs. Those are four off the top of my head.
Any chance Eduardo Rodriguez starts April 10 against the Yankees?
-- @AndryTorresNYC via Twitter

There is a chance, but there is an extenuating circumstance here. In a unique scheduling twist, the Red Sox have off-days on April 4, 6 and 9. Sale could actually pitch that first game against the Yankees if the Red Sox stay on turn, but he would have to go on six days of rest.
The club could instead decide to have Sale pitch on April 8, which would be just three games after his previous start on April 3, but with normal rest. Due to all those off-days, I think it's more likely E-Rod debuts after the series against the Yankees. My guess is that you see him in the four-game series against the Orioles which ends on Patriots' Day.

If you had to guess the rotation at the end of April, assuming everyone comes off the DL as planned, what do you think?
-- @BrantleyMichael via Twitter

Sale, Price, Rick Porcello, Thomas Pomeranz and Rodriguez, with Steven Wright serving as the long man.
When will we see Dustin Pedroia back playing full time?
-- @ham_clark via Twitter

At some point between mid and late May, Pedroia will get activated by the Red Sox. It is going to be really interesting to see how skipper Alex Cora manages his playing time. My guess is that he's going to be conservative at first. And with a backup as good as Eduardo Nunez, there's no need to over-work Pedroia until he fully has his legs back under him.
Brock Holt has made the team for now, but what happens when Pedroia comes back?
-- @afkernclarkston via Twitter

It all depends on what else is going on with the team at that time. Will Nunez be healthy? How will Blake Swihart be performing? How well is Holt performing? These things tend to work themselves out. Holt does have Minor League options left if they get in a true roster pinch.

I thought Sam Travis had a much better spring than Swihart. Why didn't they work him out in the outfield and at third base?
-- @mrcdrum via Twitter

First of all, never go by the numbers in Spring Training. They aren't very informative. Also, Swihart is a more athletic player than Travis and more equipped to play different positions. His ability to catch, in particular, gives Cora a lot of flexibility on the bench. And the third reason Swihart made the team over Travis is that he is out of options.
When should we expect Tyler Thornburg back, and what should we expect from him?
-- @DannyAnundson via Twitter

I'd expect Thornburg by early May. Judging by the way he has thrown the ball during Spring Training and how enthusiastic he has been about the way he has felt, I think he can be one of the success stories of a pitcher coming off thoracic outlet syndrome. A lot of pitchers have not done well recovering from this surgery, but it feels like Thornburg will be an outlier.

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