David Price nears Red Sox return; role out of bullpen possible

After a three-inning simulated game at Fenway Park, David Price basically declared himself ready to rejoin the Red Sox pitching staff, and manager John Farrell seemed to agree.

Only question is, how to use him?

“Let’s face it, right now, after the two sim games, he’s thrown the ball very encouraging,” Farrell said. “He’s come out of it feeling good physically, so there’s no statement on what he’s going to be doing as of this moment. We’ve got to sit and talk with him and map out what’s next.”

Farrell did not rule out the possibility of using Price as a starter, but he said such a move would be “aggressive” given only 18 games before the playoffs. It may be better for the team and better for Price to simply put him in the bullpen.

“I think what we’ve seen in past postseasons is that there’s a pitcher, whoever that pitcher has become, there’s been a multi-inning pitcher in there that has made major contributions,” Farrell said. “(In) ’13 it was (Felix) Doubront. Prior to that I’m sure there were other guys who came out of the bullpen after they started or they had innings under their belt and contributed, whether it was Derek Lowe from years past. Situations like that are not uncommon, but I don’t want to paint him as a reliever after today’s work.”

Price said he’s open to anything.

“Just want to pitch, whatever it is,” Price said.

Price has been out since the end of July because of renewed inflammation in his left elbow, but he threw all of his pitches this afternoon and said he felt strong and sharp throughout the session. He also faced hitters over the weekend, and he’s been built up through multiple bullpen sessions.

“I don’t know how many more times I have to do a live (batting practice),” Price said. “But if I come in tomorrow and feel fine, I don’t know what else I can do.”

Farrell said Price’s health will be the primary factor in determining his next role, and that bringing him back as a starter would likely require at least one more simulated game. Having an expanded roster with extra relievers makes it at least possible that the Red Sox could bring Price back to start with a limited pitch count, knowing there would be plenty of arms to pick up the slack.

It’s too early to speculate, Farrell said, how Price might be used if he’s put in a relief role.

“I do know this,” Farrell said. “What he’s showing us right now is all positive.”

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