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A’s 8, Red Sox 3: Here’s another reminder the Red Sox really need David Price

05.19.17 at 8:56 am ET

Hector Velazquez (Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports)

Hector Velazquez (Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports)

It’s almost like we forgot that the Red Sox are playing without their highest paid player.

Thanks Hector Velazquez for reminding us.

David Price will pitch what might be his final minor-league rehab assignment game Friday with Triple-A Pawtucket in Buffalo. He is expected to throw between 85-90 pitches in an outing that the Red Sox are banking on showing enough to result in a return to the big league club next week.

With this potentially being Price’s only foray into actually pitching against another organization since dealing with his elbow issue in early March, there might be some uneasiness. If Price goes out there against the Rangers at Fenway Park and offers something other than a top of the rotation kind of start, there is going to be some second-guessing going on.

But if Price goes out there Friday and offers the kind of optimism he elicited in tossing what were classified as some super intense simulated games, it will be hard not to reintroduce him to the major leagues. IT’s getting to be about that time where the Red Sox could really use something along the lines of what this guy can offer.

While technically the spot Velazquez filled in Thursday night during the Red Sox’ 8-3 loss to the A’s belonged to Steven Wright, it really is opening Price needs to fill. (For a complete recap, click here.)

While there has been some uneasiness in what Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello has delivered at times this season, there is enough there to believe that those two, along with Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez, is pennant race worthy. There is just that one missing piece. And after Velazquez’s uninspiring five-inning, six run loss, Price would seem to be scratching right where the Red Sox are itching.

In games pitched by pitchers manning that rotation hole Wright and/or Price left behind, the Red Sox are 2-7, with the collection of Wright, Brian Johnson, Kyle Kendrick and Velazquez combining for a 9.35 ERA (40 earned runs, 37 1/3 innings).

Of course, even with some rust, Price would be expected to be better.

While we get derailed by his “Manager John” quips and sting from the last time we saw Price pitch, it should be remembered what the lefty can deliver. Even during his worst season as a professional, some of the runs he put together throughout 2016 would be a welcome change for these Red Sox.

After heading into his May 12 start with a 6.75 ERA, Price rattled off eight outings in which he combined for a 2.47 ERA over 58 1/3 innings. It was a dominant stretch.

Price also managed a two-month run from July 28-Sept. 22 in which he went 8-1 with a 2.93 ERA, limiting opposing batters to a .219 batting average.

Sure, there were the kind of stinkers that would have lined up with what this fifth starter concoction has been offering the Red Sox. Most notably, the 3 1/3 innings of postseason awfulness in Cleveland.

But in this time of the Red Sox really needing to uncover their identity, with the Yankees sitting 10 games over .500 with a run differential of plus-59 (the Sox are plus-5), Price is needed now. After watching the Velazquez experiment result in three Oakland homers a series-opening loss, that is more evident now than ever.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Matt Barnes turned in his best relief outing in weeks, throwing two perfect innings while striking out five.

“I thought that was the best two innings he’s pitched in probably 10 days,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters of Barnes. “A chance for him to go out and pitch, use his stuff, both breaking balls, the curve and slider. An opportunity to go out and get in a little bit of a rhythm. He needed to go out and get some work to gain some consistency. I know he comes out of tonight and even comments after he’s done feeling more consistent and better about his outing. In his own right, a guy we need later in games, as he gets back on track, hopefully this is a chance to build on it.”

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