Unburdened Price ready to go back to back

Lefty 'didn't come to Boston to win one World Series'; will wear No. 10 this season

February 14th, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Without question, felt a little lighter on Thursday as he held court with the Boston media to mark the beginning of his fourth season with the Red Sox.

This time, the proverbial monkey -- the one that continually reminded Price that he had never won a playoff start, much less a World Series title -- had vanished from existence, never to be seen again.

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"I do [feel that way], so yeah," said Price, when asked if he felt whether that annoying monkey was now off his back. "It felt good to go out there and perform on that level. I know how many doubters are out there and whatnot, and that's fine. It felt good to go out there and to be able to prove myself right. That was what it was all about."

But what leaves Price glowing more than three months later is what his team accomplished.

"To be a world champion … that's why I play the game -- to be able to experience that at this level. It definitely feels good," said Price.

• Red Sox report with one word in mind: Repeat

Having a World Series title, along with three postseason victories under his belt, isn't the only new thing for Price this spring. He's now wearing uniform No. 10 rather than the 24 he wore the past three seasons.

Why the change?

"I'm going to let you guys figure it out, but it's not that tough," said Price. "If you know me at all, you can get it. Somebody will get it and everybody will be like, 'Oh OK, wow.'''

Price playfully shot down a couple of theories. It has nothing to do with the Red Sox being one World Series championship away from No. 10. It is also not a tribute to Lefty Grove, he assured. Could it be in honor of Hall of Famer Chipper Jones? Price grew up as an avid Braves fan and loved when Atlanta won it all in 1995.

Later in the day, the mystery was solved. Price confirmed theories that circulated on Twitter that Number 10 is an homage to his son Xavier. The roman numeral for 10 is X. But the lefty left no ambiguity over how much he would like to win another World Series.

"I mean, when [manager Alex] Cora hugged me on the field right after we won, the first thing I said to him was, 'I want to do it again next year,'" Price said. "I think the first time you ever go through something like that, you don't really grasp what's going on and get to enjoy it the way you should enjoy that moment.

"To go through it once, to experience all of that -- I think if you get back to that point again in your career, you can really kind of sit back and take in everything and it's something I'm definitely looking forward to having the opportunity to do."

This time, Price can chase the opportunity with the confidence of a champion instead of the burden that used to come with his past.

When Cora went to Price in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on three days' rest, he dazzled and pitched the Red Sox to the pennant. He again came up big in Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park. And when Cora stunned everyone by having Price start Game 5 on short rest over ace , the veteran again dominated, setting off a celebration and then a parade.

In many ways, those memories made this Price's most enjoyable start to Spring Training ever.

"That was obviously the first time in my career that the season ended the way we all wanted it to, and then it's kind of over," he said. "You get to spend the next two or three days with the guys but after that, you're back to normal life, not around your baseball teammates every single day for 10-12 hours, so season is kind of over and it just stops. So to get back with everybody, it brings back all the memories. Everybody is talking about it and it's enjoyable."

Last year at this time, Price was trying to make it back from an injury-plagued 2017. This year, he is coming off his best season with Boston, when he went 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA.

Pitching behind Sale and in front of , and , Price will be a key piece in one of MLB's top rotations.

"I feel good," said Price. "Taking it day by day. Just want to focus on right now. ... I want to win again. I've said it many times: I didn't come here to win one World Series. I came here to win multiple World Series. We won one last year and we want to do it again."