David Price likes the L.A. media way more than the Boston media

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today caught up with new Dodgers pitcher David Price and asked him about his impressions thus far. One of the bigger impressions: how much easier it is to deal with the L.A. media vs. the Boston media.

Here were his impressions after his first mound work following surgery last fall and after his introductory press conference:

“That was a big day for me, a very big day. I came in, got undressed, showered, came back to my locker, and stood there for 10 or 15 minutes. There were maybe two or three [reporters] hanging out, talking to other guys, and nobody came over to talk to me about my day. I couldn’t believe it . . .

. . . It was like after me and Mookie had our introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium, we walk off the field when it was all done, and Mookie says, ‘That’s it? Is this a joke?’ . . . I’ve only been here a couple of weeks but I really couldn’t be happier”

A friend and former teammate, Marcus Stroman, and a new teammate, Justin Turner, also make note of the different media environment in which Price is now playing and think it’ll be good for him. Stroman:

“I’m so excited that David is out of that market because people were trying to question his character. If you ask anybody that ever met or anyone who’s ever been around David, character has never been an issue. He’s the best teammate I ever had . . . It’s comical to me when I read things questioning his character.”

Turner:

“I think he got a bad rep from the media in Boston. I’ve had a lot of teammates here that come from Boston and told me how tough it is over there to deal with. But everyone I talked to, everyone who knows David, loves him to death.”

I get that Price’s teammates have loved him and I understand that the Boston media can be tough, demanding, and, at times, even unfair. But I also think Price, Turner, and Stroman are overlooking the fact that Price’s issues with the Boston media were often self-inflicted.

The incident that I think of the most in this regard was his dustup with Sox’ broadcaster and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

In June of 2017 it came out that Price had a run-in with Eckersley over comments Ecklersley made on-air about a rehab start by Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodríquez. Eck was critical, noting that Rodríquez had a rough go of things, but it was not some sort of low blow or anything like that. We later learned that the run-in was less a discussion than it was Price berating Eckersley. From the Boston Globe, here’s a report about what went down. As far as I know, neither Price nor anyone with the Red Sox disputed the account:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

As I wrote at the time, Price’s behavior here was disgraceful. Price could’ve taken up his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one, but instead he decided to wait until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond. It was classic bullying behavior, made all the worse in that it was couched in a lot of comment from Price at the time about how people on the outside didn’t know what ballplayers go through and how hard the game is. Which may be true of most of us, but it’s certainly not true of a Hall of Fame pitcher like Dennis Eckersely.

But that wasn’t the only time Price had a run-in with the press that summer. A month before he got into a shouting match with Evan Drellich, who now works for The Athletic. The account from the Boston Herald:

Following the Sox’ 8-0 loss to the Yankees, as the media was entering a long hallway that leads to the clubhouse, Price asked to speak with former Herald scribe Evan Drellich, who now covers the team for Comcast SportsNet New England.

“Sure,” said Drellich, who fell behind as the rest of the group entered manager John Farrell’s office. Price already was speaking loudly to Drellich when we entered the office. Kevin Gregg, the Sox media relations director, shooed everyone out of the hallway and into the office then closed the door. We still could hear Price yelling.

Then came a second round of yelling, after which Drellich made a comment about Price’s professionalism which led to Sox pitcher Rick Porcello saying something about Drellich’s. Then:

The last words I heard from David Price last night were “(Expletive) them! (Expletive) them all. All of them.”

We don’t know and never did know the nature of Price and Drellich’s dispute. Again, Price may have had a legitimate beef. But the way in which he handled it did not reflect well upon him.

Can the Boston press be challenging and, as I said above, unfair? Absolutely. It’s probably one of the toughest if not the toughest market in which to play from that perspective. But, somehow. most guys who play there manage to avoid having multiple, expletive-filled shouting matches with the reporters and commentators over the course of a season. The fact that Price could not do so probably says as much about him as it does the Boston press.

Which is to say that, yeah, it’ s probably pretty good that he’s in L.A. now. But I don’t think it’s because the press gave him a “bad rep.” And I certainly don’t think it’s because people there “tried to question his character.” As far as I can tell, he showed his character, for both good and for bad while in Boston and people merely commented on it.

 

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.