Tomase: Exorcising playoff demons hasn't taken edge off David Price


FORT MYERS, Fla. --  Last October, David Price very famously told us he holds all the cards. On Thursday, he laid them on the table.

His decision to stay in Boston rather than opt out of his contract? Pure pragmatism.

"You've seen the free agent market?" he said. "It wasn't very hard."

His arms-length relationship with Red Sox fans? He didn't exactly exude warmth when he faced the TV cameras following one too many questions on the subject.

"Fans, I love you guys," he said. "I have no problem with you. I get asked about you all the time. I'm sorry. I love you guys. That's it."

Hear that, fans? He has no problem with you. Happy Valentine's Day.

Price is many things, but cuddly ain't one of them. After what he did last October, however, Red Sox fans shouldn't much care. The $217 million left-hander with the penchant for postseason implosions shrugged off his demons and carried the Red Sox to a title. He was every bit as deserving of the World Series MVP award as winner Steve Pearce, beating the Dodgers twice, including the Game 5 clincher.

He'll never answer another question about winning a playoff game, but if you thought that positive development would smooth some of his rougher edges, guess again.

Price met the media for the first time on Thursday, and while by no means hostile, he wasn't particularly hard to read. His persona still screams us vs. them.

"It felt good to go out there and perform on that level," Price said. "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."

And then came the fan questions.

"I have no problems," Price said. "You guys can drive that narrative if you want, but I'm ready to rock, ready to play, I have no problems."

Having no problem with the fans and loving them are obviously two different things, and perhaps we should just accept that Price will never display outward affection.

If he pitches like he did last year, it won't matter.

"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."

It was interesting to hear him acknowledge that his opt-out decision traced to brutal market conditions that have left even perennial All-Stars like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Craig Kimbrel jobless as spring training opens. There's a legitimate chance that had Price opted out of the final four years and $127 million remaining on his contract, he'd still be unsigned, especially given his age (33) and imperfect elbow.

When asked to clarify what role the Boston experience played in his decision to stay, Price tellingly answered a different question.

"I want to win again," he said. "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."

It's possible that no one deserved more credit for last year's World Series run than Price. His teammates clearly love him. He pitches hurt and last year found a way on the biggest stage.

Just don't expect any soliloquies about the joy and wonder of playing in Boston. He's got no problem with the fans, and that's about the best you're gonna get.