Jays closer Roberto Osuna on David Price: ‘You’ve got to follow that guy’

Price's former Jays' teammates have nothing but nice things to say about him.

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Robbie Ross Jr., center left, is congratulated by, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, Steven Wright, David Price and Joe Kelly, from left, after winning a friendly fielding competition during baseball spring training Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Fort Myers, Fla. Wednesday marked the first full-squad workout for the Boston Red Sox. (Corey Perrine/Naples Daily News via AP)
David Price was a respected veteran in the Blue Jays clubhouse. –Corey Perrine/AP

David Price started only 13 games with the Toronto Blue Jays. But he made quite the impression.

“He’s an unbelievable player, and you’ve got to follow that guy,” Jays closer Roberto Osuna said Friday. “A nice teammate. Obviously, one of the best pitchers in baseball right now. I learned a lot of things from him. … It was my pleasure be teammates for a little bit.”

On July 30, 2015, the day before the 2015 trade deadline, the Tigers traded Price to the Jays for prospects. With the Jays, Price went 9-1, and posted a 2.30 ERA during the regular season. He pitched Game 1 of the ALDS for the Jays, but allowed five hits for five earned runs in seven innings on the way to a 7-5 loss. The Jays advanced the ALCS, and Price started Game 2, where he struck out eight, and allowed five earned runs in 6.2 innings in the Jays’ 6-3 loss.

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Osuna didn’t close any of Price’s postseason starts, but the 21-year-old closer helped finish a pair of wins for Price during the 2015 regular season.

“That was great,” Osuna said. “When I was in the minor leagues, I watched him pitching, and I love the way he does everything.

“His cutter is unbelievable. He’s just one of the pitchers that you’ve got to follow him. Why? Because like I said, whatever he does, he does the best.”

Price’s leadership seemed to extend beyond the pitching staff in Toronto.

“He was better than advertised coming into the clubhouse,” Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said Friday. “A guy of his stature and his fame, and what he’s been able to accomplish in this game — there’s not a more humble guy that I’ve ever been around. He was a guy that immediately just invested himself, and quickly became a leader on the team, and someone that we all enjoyed spending time with him.”

It’s a familiar story for Price in Boston. Despite a rocky history with David Ortiz, Price and Big Papi hugged it out almost immediately after the lefty arrived at spring training. And Sox owner John Henry said Monday he was impressed with Price’s leadership. But Price can get goofy, too. The ace bought his Jays teammates matching bathrobes and scooters, so they could ride to work together.

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“He’s always like that, even when he’s pitching or not pitching,” designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion said. “He’s a funny guy.”

Price has his first start against his former team since signing his seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox during last offseason. Marcus Stroman, who likely won’t get a start this series against the Sox, has been tasked as the Jays’ ace for the 2016 season, and is 2-0 with a 4.22 ERA. He addressed Price’s departure in December 2015.

“I’m happy he’s in Boston—I’ll get to see him all the time,” Stroman told Sportsnet.ca. “And I get to pitch against him. It’s awesome. I get to pitch against one of my role models, one of my mentors and one of my buddies. It’s going to be fun. I’ve been texting him about it. It’s going to be a fun rivalry for a bunch of years.”

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