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David Price waiting to see how Dodgers will deploy his arm

March 31, 2022 GMT
A woman sits in the outfield before a spring training baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles DodgersThursday, March 31, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A woman sits in the outfield before a spring training baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles DodgersThursday, March 31, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A woman sits in the outfield before a spring training baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles DodgersThursday, March 31, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A woman sits in the outfield before a spring training baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles DodgersThursday, March 31, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A woman sits in the outfield before a spring training baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles DodgersThursday, March 31, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The pain was sharp and familiar. It reminded David Price of where he has been. It also told him he still might be able to be the pitcher the Los Angeles Dodgers thought they had nearly 26 months ago.

Price’s quiet spring began the way others have in the five-time All-Star’s 13-year career: His left elbow hurt after his first live batting practice a couple of weeks ago, and he knew the resumption of an old routine was underway.

“Always the elbow,” Price said. “It happens every year, all the way back to 2010. Now, everything feels good – arm, elbow and shoulder.’’

It was good enough to impress Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and anybody else who watched Price make his first spring appearance against Cleveland on Wednesday night. The left-hander worked only an inning, but he had two strikeouts and was clocked at 93 mph.

In an abbreviated camp, it wasn’t enough to determine his role. It did remind the Dodgers that Price is still in the mix.

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From starter to bullpen, Price’s role with the Dodgers has been uncertain since they acquired the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner from the Boston Red Sox in a three-team deal that included right-fielder Mookie Betts in February 2020.

Price didn’t pitch at all that year, opting out because of concerns about COVID-19. In 2021, he bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen with 11 starts and 28 appearances as a reliever. His overall ERA was 4.03.

He arrived at camp in mid-March ready to do anything. Then Roberts mentioned him as a possible starter.

“I’m preparing that way, yeah,” said Price, who is in the final year of a seven-year, $217 million contract. “I think it’d be silly of me to prepare to be a reliever if I’m asked to start. So, I’m preparing to be a starter until otherwise.”

Otherwise looks to be the case. Roberts projects his starting rotation will be Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney and Tony Gonsolin. He cautioned that nothing is set in stone, mostly because pitchers were limited in a camp cut short by major league baseball’s lockout.

The Dodgers signed career starter Tyler Anderson in mid-March, just in case. As for Price, Roberts said: “I just think that David, right now, is not an option in the sense of, he’s not built up. It just doesn’t seem feasible right now.”

The 36-year-old left-hander could still have an immediate role, like one inning in relief early in the season, Roberts said, and moving up to multiple innings as he gets stronger.

“I’m confident in David in any role,” Roberts said. “I like his versatility. The role doesn’t matter. It’s just knowing that he’s going to pitch valuable innings in whatever role.”

NOTES

Cody Bellinger took batting practice Thursday on the minor-league side of the Dodgers’ camp. The 2019 National League MVP is 4 for 27 with 17 strikeouts this spring.

“I wouldn’t say I’m alarmed,” Roberts said. “I think ‘progressing’ is the word. We’ve got to continue to log at-bats to make him feel as comfortable as possible when the season starts.’’

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