Red Sox starter David Price said he is “shocked’’ that his 2017 confrontation with NESN broadcaster Dennis Eckersley keeps resurfacing.
“That was two years ago,’’ Price told reporters in the Red Sox clubhouse before Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. “Two years. Close to 800 days. Come on, dude.’’
In July 2017, the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy reported that Price had called out Eckersley on the team plane after the 64-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher said, “Yuck,’’ in analyzing lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez’s stat line during a NESN telecast. According to Shaughnessy, Price shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’ as Eckersley made his way down the aisle, and followed that up with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’ when Eckersley tried to respond.
Price has since said on multiple occasions that he wishes he handled the situation differently — something he once again reiterated Wednesday afternoon. According to Price, the pair had a meeting scheduled to address the matter in 2017, but Eckersley never showed.
“He backed out,’’ Price said. “I was going to tell him, ‘I apologize. I didn’t handle it the right way.’ But it continues to come up. There’s no reason for it. Honestly, I just think it’s trash.’’
What bothers Price the most is that Eckersley has voiced interest in moving on and, though he hasn’t yet talked to Price face-to-face, still discusses the matter in interviews. Most recently, Eckersley told the Globe’s Chad Finn in a Boston Globe Magazine piece that he doesn’t plan on saying “a word’’ to Price.
“He says he wants to move on,’’ Price said. “But he continues to go on the radio or do interviews about it. If you want to move on, move on. We’re two men. We can meet. Ain’t nothing going to happen. I yelled at you. I’m sure everybody in here has been yelled at.’’
Price was also critical of the recent MLB Network documentary featuring Eckersley, blasting him out for the lack of involvement from former teammates.
“The one thing that definitely stood out to me is that he had zero former teammates in that [documentary],’’ Price said. “Not one talking about him. It was him talking about himself. If anybody ever does a special on me after baseball, I won’t need to go on and interview. I’ll have former teammates. I’ll have former coaches. They can all vouch for me. He didn’t have that.
“To me, that’s all you need to know. That tells the entire story right there. My teammates will vouch for me. My coaches will vouch for me. He doesn’t have that, so he has to vouch for myself.’’
In a comment to the Globe, Bruce Cornblatt, the senior producer of the documentary, said he received “100 percent’’ cooperation from Eckersley’s former teammates, naming Ron Darling, Ray Fosse, Bruce Hurst, Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire, and Jerry Remy as examples. He said the production team didn’t reach out to many “by design.’’
“This was supposed to be Eck on Eck,’’ Cornblatt said.
As for what’s next?
Price said if Eckersley ever does want to meet, he will apologize. In the meantime, he said he expects Eckersley to continue to speak about the situation. And if that’s the case, Price said he won’t back down, either.
“I’m going to stick up for myself at all times,’’ he said. “I don’t care what backlash I get. The negative attention, I’m fine with that. I’m going to speak up for myself. I’m going to stand up for myself. He either needs to move on, or we can meet. One of the two. If he says he wants to move on, stop talking about it.’’
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he spoke to Price on Wednesday morning but elected to keep the conversation private. He said it’s regrettable the incident keeps coming up but noted he doesn’t believe it’s a distraction for the team.
“I think we’ll be fine,’’ Cora said.