One of Major League Baseball’s most dominant pitchers, David Price has left a lasting impact in every city he’s called home throughout his career. From Tampa, Detroit and Toronto to his most recent MLB stop in Boston, the lefty ace has disappointed scores of opposing batters with every start. We sat down with the 30-year-old southpaw and 2012 Cy Young winner during his visit to Montreal earlier this season to discuss everything from his career on the diamond to his secret passion for hockey and the Habs.
Two years ago, Carey Price took some photos in your jersey in your clubhouse while you were on the mound for the Rays at the same time. Did you know who he was back then?
DAVID PRICE: Of course I did. I remember when I got back to the clubhouse, our PR guy with the Rays told me to go see my locker and I saw a signed Carey Price jersey hanging in there. I couldn’t believe it! When I heard that he wanted one of my jerseys, I gave him the first one I could find.
We heard that last year when you were in Toronto, you guys were playing NHL 15 all the time in the clubhouse. Were you as good at playing hockey with a video game controller as you are on the mound with your glove? Who was your favorite victim on the team?
DP: I would say so. We had a lot of good players in Toronto. Mark Lowe was pretty good, and Brett Cecil really improved his game. In fact, I think that’s the only thing he did during the offseason because he used to be hands-down the worst. (laughs) But he beat me pretty good a couple times this winter. We had a lot of guys in the clubhouse who played NHL. We used to play coming back from road games. Everybody would come over to my room around 2 or 3 in the morning and it was a lot of fun.
Have you ever laced up the skates?
DP: I did when I was younger and I definitely enjoyed it. I did a lot of roller-blading, but that was definitely different. I remember one time when I was around 11 or 12 years old, we were skating for fun at the rink and they called everyone off the ice so they could Zamboni the ice. Right before we went back on the ice, I told my mom the game plan: she would have to head to the opposite end of the rink and wait for me. I would skate one full lap around the ice before hitting the breaks, jokingly snowing her in the process. So as soon as the Zamboni was finished, I was going to be the first one who jumped on the fresh ice. When the ice was ready, I started my lap, but when I started hitting the breaks my skate just went “whomp” and I landed right on my chin and earned myself eight stitches. I can still feel the scar today. That’s the last time I tried skating, but it’s definitely something I’d like to try again.
|Back when David was playing for the Rays, he gave one of his jerseys to Carey Price during a stop in Tampa Bay. |
Are you a hockey fan? We’ve seen you tweet about the Preds in the past.
DP: I’ve become a hockey fan over the past couple years. I play a lot of NHL on my console. So I’m definitely familiar with NHL players like Carey Price. Even though I’m in Boston now, I like to play as the Habs because you need a strong goalie to win. If not, you’d better be able to score a lot of goals.
Were you aware that by signing with the Red Sox, you were getting yourself involved in the intense rivalry between Montreal and Boston?
DP: I was not aware of that. (laughs)
Did it take some time getting used to a Red Sox jersey after facing them so many times in the big leagues?
DP: (laughs) It’s getting there. At first it was definitely different and a little weird. But playing for a new team is always going to feel a bit different at first. That’s the way I look at it. That process has gone very smoothly for me. Being dealt the last two years at the trade deadline to teams that I’ve faced a lot was more difficult than going to spring training and spending those six to seven weeks with the guys before the season. Signing with Boston in the off-season allowed me to get to know everybody a little more on a personal level and see how the organization goes about their business.
Do you think you’ll be even more confident in Boston, knowing that you’ll play more often with the Green monster behind you at Fenway Park?
DP: Yeah but it’s not only that. I try to look at it as if I’d be pitching at Yankee Stadium. You can’t go into that start thinking that you have to keep the ball down and avoid mistakes. You have to put positive thoughts in your head because whenever you start getting negative, that’s when bad things happened. When you think positively, more often than not, good things will happen.
Do you find it ironic that during your first-ever visit to Montreal, the pitcher you faced in your second career pro start almost a decade ago (Pedro Martinez in Vero Beach) was honored for everything that he accomplished with the Expos?
DP: I still remember it like it was yesterday. He was scheduled for a rehab start in the minors and it turned out to be the same game as my last start in single ‘A’ tier-1 baseball. I threw the ball really well that day and I guess he took notice because he said some really nice things about me post-game. It was a very special day for me. But I absolutely knew about all he had accomplished in Montreal. I consider myself a fan of the game, and Pedro was one of the all-time greats. I was familiar with what he did here. He’s special.
Did Pedro give you any advice about how to be successful in Boston when the two of you got together back at training camp?
DP: We talked quite a bit. The biggest thing he and all the other Red Sox greats told me was just to be myself. They told me that I already know what it takes to get prepared and to be successful in Boston. It’s always a good thing to hear from guys like that. Whenever you go to a new organization, things are going to be done differently; whether it’s exercises, or how pitchers work in unison with the training staff, or other things like that. I’ve definitely built up my own system over my career, which is different from what they do in Boston. It felt good just to have guys who have been successful for as long as they’ve been tell me to be myself.
Are you hoping to match Pedro’s collection of three Cy Young awards during your tenure in Boston?
DP: (laughs) I hope so. That’s not something I think about, though. If you go about your business the right way, if you’re available to pitch every fifth day, and if you throw the ball like you’re capable of, good things will happen for you on the field. You’re going to have pitches turn into hard hit balls and you’ll have to challenge great batters, but you’ll also have those soft hit balls and hopefully they won’t find those small holes in the defense. There are a lot of things that go into it. Hopefully I’ll be as successful as him in Boston. I know I’m capable of throwing the baseball in Fenway the way I want to throw. I feel very comfortable pitching there and that went into the process of me being here.
What did you think of the warm welcome Montreal baseball fans gave you during your short stay here in April?
DP: Last year it felt like the entire country just gravitated around the Blue Jays. I really felt the passion of the fans. It was similar to what we saw from the crowd in April when we went to play in Montreal. When I was in Toronto last year, I talked with the guys about the two exhibition games they played in Montreal earlier in the year and about how many fans came out to the games. I wasn’t surprised at all by the strong passion we saw from baseball fans in Montreal.
You played for the Rays, a team that continues to be the topic of relocation rumors. What were the best and worst parts about playing in Tampa? What needs to change in that market for the team to do better?
DP: I don’t think Tampa is an ideal market. There are a lot of people that live in St. Petersburg who are not from St. Petersburg. They’ve relocated from Canada or New York or Boston because they wanted to get away from the weather in the winter, so they’re only there for spring training baseball. The majority of the time, especially when we played the Red Sox, the Yankees, or the Blue Jays, we knew we’d get a lot of their fans in there. Since they’re not from St. Pete, they weren’t suddenly going to become Rays fans. They were going to have their allegiances to their team. It was tough, but we still had a good and loyal fan base. Our attendance numbers weren’t similar to the ones of other teams, but we saw a lot of the same faces in there every day, and to me that was really cool.
Since you’re known as a popcorn aficionado, what did you think of the popcorn in Montreal?
DP: I haven’t had a chance to try it. (laughs) I don’t think they were allowed to sell it to me. But the popcorn at the Rogers Centre was hands-down the best I ever had. If I have to wear a disguise to get some when I’m there, I’ll do it. Nobody will be able to stop me in Toronto.
Follow David on Twitter (@DAVIDprice24) or head to redsox.com to keep tabs on the Red Sox all season long.
Interview conducted by Hugo Fontaine.