BOSTON — David Price could have taken the opportunity Saturday to apologize for berating Dennis Eckersley on the Boston Red Sox‘s plane last month. Instead, Price delivered a different message to the Hall of Fame pitcher-turned-team broadcaster.
“Just show your face,” he told reporters.
Speaking to the media for the first time since he was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday, Price admitted that he could have confronted Eckersley “probably a different way” than mocking and cursing at him on the team plane June 29. But rather than saying he was sorry, Price doubled down, claiming that Eckersley doesn’t spend as much time in the Red Sox’s clubhouse as most other broadcasters do.
Eckersley filled in last month on NESN telecasts for regular color analyst Jerry Remy, who is being treated for a recurrence of lung cancer. Known for his candid, unfiltered approach, Eckersley typically says what he believes, even if it’s critical of players. Although Price is right that Eckersley spends less time in the clubhouse than Remy and some other broadcasters, he doesn’t avoid it entirely.
In the case of the June 29 incident, Price was annoyed by Eckersley’s one-word reaction — “Yuck” — to lefty Eduardo Rodriguez‘s poor pitching line in a minor league rehab start. Previously unreported details of Price’s plane encounter with Eckersley, including the fact that several players reportedly stood and applauded, surfaced in last Sunday’s Boston Globe. Price hadn’t addressed the situation until Saturday.
“If Eck was around, he’d know who we are,” Price told reporters. “He’s never in the clubhouse. Mr. Remy is always in here. [Play-by-play announcer] Dave O’Brien is always around. Mr. [Mike] Timlin, on the road trip, was always in the clubhouse. He’s the one guy I’ve seen in my career that doesn’t ever show his face in the clubhouse. There’s a reason behind that.”
Eckersley has a good reason for not being at Fenway Park this weekend for the Red Sox’s series against the Kansas City Royals. As a Hall of Famer, he’s attending the annual induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York.
Red Sox owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, team president Sam Kennedy and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski have apologized to Eckersley. But neither Price nor any uniformed personnel, including manager John Farrell, has followed suit.
On Friday, second baseman Dustin Pedroia said Price hasn’t spoken to Eckersley because he hasn’t seen him. Eckersley worked 10 consecutive games in three cities on a pre-All-Star break road trip after the incident with Price.
Price said he doesn’t watch broadcasts of his own starts, though the “Yuck” comment came during a game he pitched. The left-hander characterized Eckersley’s commentary as “really good” since the confrontation, noting that “he’s said a lot of positive stuff about everybody in the clubhouse.”
Eckersley isn’t the only media member who has drawn Price’s ire this season. He had a run-in with a Comcast SportsNet reporter after a game at Yankee Stadium in May and cursed at several other reporters in the aftermath of that flare-up.
Price’s behavior hasn’t been limited to his time with the Red Sox. In previous seasons, he has publicly lashed out at TBS commentators Tom Verducci and Dirk Hayhurst and a newspaper reporter from Detroit. Asked if he has any constructive criticism for the media, Price said, “I don’t know. That’s not my job.” If anything, he said the Red Sox “have rallied around” Price’s media criticism.
“I’m standing up for my teammates. That’s it,” Price said. “That’s who I am. That’s who I always have been, and that’s who I will continue to be.”
With regard to his left elbow, Price said the inflammation is “nowhere near the extent” of his spring training elbow injury, and he doesn’t expect to be sidelined for long.
“All the signs are really good,” Price said. “It wouldn’t be a long process once I start throwing.”