I sure hope, for his sake, that new Boston Red Sox ace David Price gets off to a good start in Beantown.
If he doesn’t, he may soon regret that he spurned the St. Louis Cardinals over a difference of about 10 percent of a $200-and-some million payday.
The difference between playing in St. Louis, where fans are so easy going that they often cheer for opposing players who make a great play, and pressure-packed Boston was illustrated again this week when the Red Sox announced they’ll bench $95 million third baseman Pablo Sandoval to start his second season in Boston.
Sandoval, who had his worst season -- by far -- last year in the majors was “eaten whole” by Red Sox fans, according to media reports there, after a bad start in Boston that included four errors in his first 11 games.
Sandoval was a career .294 hitter in seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants. But he carried his problems with him to the plate last season in Boston and struggled to a .245 mark.
He’s apparently so broken by playing in front of the demanding Fenway Park fans that the Red Sox are desperately trying to dump him now on any team that will take him.
Sandoval isn’t the first new Red Sox player to wilt under the pressure.
▪ Carl Crawford was a .296 hitter with the Tampa Bay Rays who stole an average of nearly 40 bases a season when the Red Sox fell in love with him in free agency and gave him a huge contract. After that, he was a .260 hitter in Boston and was eventually dumped in a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he rebounded to hit .286 despite battling advancing age and injuries. He lasted only two years with the Red Sox.
▪ Former St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria famously took $1 million more from Boston instead of St. Louis’ $40 million contract offer in the days after the 2004 World Series. One of the top shortstops in baseball at the time, Renteria got a case of the yips in Boston and never stopped hearing from their fans about it. He lasted one season and was traded to Atlanta.
▪ Hanley Ramirez was a career .300 hitter before landing with the Red Sox in 2015 where he hit .249 and played in only 105 games.
Price, by all accounts, has wanted to play for the Cardinals for years. And, from the size of their free agent offer plus the fact that they tried to trade for him twice, the affection seemed mutual.
One of the most talented pitchers in baseball, there is every reason to believe Price will continue to be successful. But Fenway Park isn’t an easy place to pitch for a left-handed hurler and all it takes is a couple of mistakes to be smashed over the Green Monster to turn polite applause into boos.
It must be sobering for Price, who was 1-1 a 2.81 ERA in spring training, to see his new teammate be chewed up and spit out by Boston.