Red Sox’ David Price says this year will be better

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price, right, stands with his teammates during baseball spring training, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – David Price and the rest of the Boston Red Sox staff are learning a whole new pitch this spring.

Price faced Red Sox minor leaguers on a back field Monday in his first camp outing, throwing three innings under controlled circumstances.

“It feels good to be able to stand here and feel as good as I feel,” he said. “It’s different than any other spring trainings. Easing into it has been great.”

“The way my arm feels and my body feels is great. To have a laid-back spring training, I think everybody is benefiting from it. Take it nice and slow and do it the right way,” he said.

Price expects to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday against Minnesota.

The AL East champions are slowly bringing along the 32-year-old Price. But it’s not because of the injury to his left elbow that sidelined him in 2017, when he made just 11 starts and went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA.

New manager Alex Cora and first-year pitching coach Dana LeVangie are monitoring the spring workload for some of their starting pitchers.

One of the new rules, Price said, is that when pitchers throw bullpen sessions, they aren’t responsible for other activities that day, such as pitchers’ fielding practice and side drills.

“This is different for all of us,” Price said. “I don’t think it’s very common, not just in our camp. I know a lot of pitchers and I never heard of what we’re doing.

“Alex said when it’s your day for bullpen, come to team meeting the days you’re throwing your bullpen and you focus on the bullpen and don’t worry about PFPs or doing cover drills. To be able to take it lighter, it’s got to help us down the road,” he said.

Price made his final start last year on July 22. The five-time All-Star and former AL Cy Young Award winner returned in mid-September and pitched five times out of the bullpen.

Price was a reliever in the playoffs, too, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings against Houston during two games of the AL Division Series.

Going against Boston minor leaguers, Price threw 31 of 39 pitches for strikes and used only fastballs and cutters.

He gave up four hits, walked none and struck out three of 13 batters. Innings ended when he reached he reached a pitch count.

Price signed a seven-year, $217 million contract before the 2106 season to be the team’s ace.

But with the acquisition of left-hander Chris Sale last season, his role changed.