DENVER — Andrew Heaney made two starts in April then went to the injured list for two months with a shoulder problem.
Tyler Anderson stepped into the rotation. David Price’s name never really came up.
Clayton Kershaw went to the IL for over a month with the latest renewal of his back issues.
Again, Price was not mentioned as an option to help absorb Kershaw’s absence in the starting rotation.
Earlier this month, it happened again. Walker Buehler was subtracted from the Dodgers’ starting rotation when he suffered a flexor tendon injury and underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. The combination could keep him on the sidelines until at least September.
Again, Price was not seen as an option to fill a vacancy for a starting pitcher.
And now that Heaney is on the IL a second time, Mitch White has stepped into the starting rotation.
It certainly looks like the former Cy Young Award winner, five-time All-Star and two-time ERA champ with 322 career starts and 155 victories has reached the end of his career as a starting pitcher.
“Maybe,” the 36-year-old Price said with a robust laugh. “I guess so.”
If the Dodgers no longer view him as a viable option as a starting pitcher, Price said he is okay with that. If they decide they need him to start again, he’s okay with that too.
“We’ve gotten plenty out of seven starters,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, including White. “So to think you’re gonna build David up to that – very unrealistic.”
Price said not only does he understand why the Dodgers would give starts to young pitchers like White but he is a fan of watching young pitchers like White get their opportunities.
“I like these young guys getting their starts,” said Price, who has a 3.38 ERA in 18 relief appearances, mostly in low-leverage situations. “I like them being able to get their numbers up so they can go to arbitration and they can get their money. I got mine.
“I like seeing these young guys go out there and try and establish themselves. I love watching Mitch White pitch. He’s got good stuff. That’s what he needs. He needs to pitch in the big leagues, not pitch in Triple-A. That’s a waste of time. He needs to be in the big leagues pitching.”
Price is still getting his money from the seven-year, $217 million contract he signed with the Boston Red Sox before the 2016 season – $32 million this year ($16 million from the Red Sox, $16 million from the Dodgers). This is the final year of that contract – and very likely Price’s last year before retirement.
“Yeah,” Price said when asked if he plans to retire after the 2022 season. But then he hedges it a little bit.
“I mean, yes and no. My (two) kids love it so much. That’s the only thing that makes me even think about playing any longer.
“I always told myself I’d ask my son, ‘Do you want daddy to play baseball or do you want daddy to be home all the time?’ I asked him before this year and he said, ‘I want you to be home.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ Now when I ask him, he says, ‘No, I want you to keep playing.’”
The first overall pick in the 2007 draft, the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2012 and a World Series champion with the Red Sox in 2018, Price said he can walk away satisfied that he has accomplished everything he wanted to in the game – well, almost everything.
“Absolutely – other than winning a Silver Slugger,” said the career .123 hitter, again with a hearty laugh.
Mookie Betts has started swinging a bat in his recovery from a cracked rib on his right side. But throwing has been more of an issue.
“The swinging of the bat is not as bothersome as throwing,” Roberts said.
For that reason, Roberts said he is “pretty certain” Betts will return “by way of DH” before he is ready to play in the field. At this point, Roberts said he expects that to happen before the All-Star break in just over two weeks.
“Yes, I am very optimistic about that,” Roberts said.
Padres (RHP Joe Musgrove, 8-1, 2.12 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Mitch White, 1-1, 4.25 ERA), Thursday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, FS1, 570 AM