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Column: Defiant Price unrepentant in addressing Eckersley confrontation

(Patrick McDermott/USA TODAY Sports)

Some four weeks after David Price upbraided Dennis Eckersley on a team charter flight to Toronto, the Red Sox lefty addressed the issue in detail for the first time Saturday.

But if anyone was expecting some version of an apology – or even a clarification or explanation — to the Hall of Famer, there was none forthcoming.

To the contrary, Price was largely unrepentant about the incident that saw him berate and mock Eckersley for his one-word reaction (“Yuck”) to a rehab start by Eduardo Rodriguez. And if this was an effort by the club to finally put the issue behind it, that too, fell far short of the goal.

Indeed, rather than issuing a mea culpa of sorts, Price somehow managed to give himself credit for making Eckersley seem more positive in his on-air comments since the incident.

(Perhaps this is how Price re-injured his arm: by contorting himself while patting himself on the back).

If this was Price’s effort to put out the fire that he ignited weeks ago, he succeeded only in further self-immolating.

And Price also managed to contradict himself. After first noting that the issue was “not something that we talked about after it happened or any other time,’’ he later said: “If anything, we’ve had discussions about it and we’ve rallied around it.’’

Pick a lane, David. Which is it: you’ve tuned out the distraction, or you’ve skillfully turned this into a unifying moment for the rest of the team?

If you’re going with the latter, it sure hasn’t manifested itself on the field or in the standings. Since your mid-air rant, the Sox are 12-13 and have lost a game and a half in the standings. The rallying cry seems more like a whimper.

“My attitude is still the same,’’ said Price when asked about external criticism of his altercation. “I want to help these guys win this year. That’s what I’m focused on.’’

On Saturday, what Price seemed mostly focused on – ‘’obsessed’’ might be a better word choice — was that Eckersley is not present enough in the clubhouse to be accountable for his on-air criticisms.

“He’s never in the clubhouse,’’ said Price. “Mr (Jerry) Remy’s always in here. Dave O’Brien, he’s always around. Mr. (Mike) Timlin, on the road trip, (he was) always in the clubhouse. (Eckersley) is the one guy in my career who doesn’t show his face in the clubhouse and there’s a reason behind that.

“Every team that we play, whenever they hear our broadcast, everybody in here is always getting text messages, ‘That guy, he has to never be around.’ Like, people know what’s going on … If you’re going to say what he says, come around. Show your face. If guys have a problem, pull him aside," Price said. "That ain’t how it’s done. This isn’t the first time it’s happened here regarding Eck. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but it did.’’

You’ll notice a distinct lack of contrition from Price, who seemed more interested in making sure it’s commonly known what a selfless, supportive teammate he is.

“I could have handled it, probably, a different way,’’ he allowed. But then he quickly shifted back into self-congratulatory mode.

“But ever since that’s happened, he’s been really good,’’ Price said. “He said a lot of positive stuff about everybody in this clubhouse. This is one band, one sound. We’ve got to have everybody on board. That’s that. I’m standing up for my teammates, that’s it. That’s that.

“Standing up for my guys. I talked to my Dad this morning and he remembered when I got suspended in fifth grade, for one day, for standing up for classmates. That’s who I am. That’s who I always have been and who I’ll continue to be.’’

On a day when Price clumsily attempted to clear the air, however, that seemed less like a promise and more like a threat.

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