David Price relieved to avoid surgery; no timetable for return

Boston Red Sox ace David Price got the news he hoped to hear this time, namely that the soreness in his left elbow and forearm will subside without the need for surgery.

But what about next time?

"They were like, 'Your elbow is extremely unique. It's found a way to kind of heal itself,'" Price told reporters Saturday, referring to his meeting this week with Drs. James Andrews and Neal ElAttrache. "I've heard that before, but not from guys that have done the surgeries they've done and looked at as many elbows as they've looked at.

"Just to hear it from those two guys, it felt good."

Price almost certainly will begin the season on the disabled list. He has been on the DL only once before in his career, for six weeks in 2013 with a strained left triceps.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Friday that Andrews and ElAttrache recommended seven to 10 days of rest and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling in Price's elbow. But Price warned that it might take longer than that and insisted he doesn't have a timetable for when he might resume throwing.

"If I'm not out there in 10 days, I'm sure that's going to be the next story," Price said. "And if I'm not there in five days, that'll be the next story as well. So, there is no timetable. There is no seven to 10 days, so just go ahead and disregard that."

Price said he experiences some level of soreness every year in spring training, although the discomfort he awoke to Wednesday, one day after throwing 38 pitches in two simulated innings, was more intense and localized than usual.

According to Price, Andrews and ElAttrache said the sensation stems from a muscle, not the ulnar collateral ligament that often tears and causes pitchers to undergo Tommy John elbow surgery. Price said Andrews and ElAttrache also confirmed that the issue is the result of years of wear and tear rather than one overly strenuous pitch.

Price, 31, is entering his 10th season in the majors. Since 2009, he has thrown 1,657.2 innings, fifth-most in baseball during that span behind Felix Hernandez, James Shields, Justin Verlander and Cole Hamels. And in the past three seasons, including playoffs, Price has thrown more pitches (11,225) to more batters (2,992) over more innings (733.1) than any pitcher, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

It's reasonable, then, to wonder whether the ulnar collateral ligament in Price's elbow is akin to a ticking bomb. It didn't go off this time, but he still has six years remaining on his $217 million contract with the Red Sox.

"This is something that's happened over the course of my career, and I've continued to be able to do it at a high level," Price told reporters. "That was something both (doctors) talked about. If it wasn't still pitching at a high level, it's something that might be a little bit different. If I was 25 or 26 years old, it might be a different scenario. But for the fact that this has gone on for a while, I've continued to be able to eat up innings and to be able to throw the baseball at a high level.

"They expected it to be a lot worse than what it was. That was both of them. They said it multiple times. They said, 'We expected this to be a lot worse than what it really is.' Everything they said, honestly, I didn't feel like that meeting could have went any better. I don't look at this to be anything too serious."