Red Sox lefty David Price's elbow still weaker than when he arrived in camp

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There was great worry this spring about Red Sox pitcher David Price’s elbow injury. A bit later, it appeared they got positive news and that he might not miss too much time. The zig and zag continues, as the latest news is that Tuesday the Red Sox learned through a strength test that the lefty’s throwing elbow is weaker than it was in mid-February. 

More from the Boston Herald

The starter has lost enough strength in his arm to where he is weaker than he was when he reported to spring training, the team said today. And until he regains that strength, he cannot begin -- never mind ramp up -- his throwing program.

With fewer than two weeks to go before the season begins, Price’s absence is going to stretch at least into mid-to-late April. If his arm does not begin to rebound in the coming days, Price’s absence could even stretch into May.

Of course, a RedSox.com report spun this as a positive, since Price has gained strength from his last elbow test. So I guess it depends on perspective. 

Regardless, Price is obviously starting to get pretty far behind the 8-ball here. There’s a reason pitchers (and catchers) are required to report to spring training earlier than position players. They need those six weeks to build arm strength so they can work upward of six or seven innings in the early part of the season. At this point, it’s been three weeks since Price has been throwing, so he’ll be starting over. 

Let’s say it takes Price another two weeks to get his arm strength to the point that he can start throwing again. That would mean he’s around six weeks from joining the Red Sox rotation, which is the middle of May. Any setbacks just push that timetable back even further. 

If we take the positive side and he starts throwing within the next few days, he still probably can’t rejoin the rotation until late April at the earliest. 

The overarching concern here is the workload on Price’s arm. Since becoming a full-time starter in the 2011 season (he made 23 starts in 2010), Price, now 31, has only failed to reach 200 innings once, and that was a 186 2/3-inning season (2013). He’s already racked up 1,672 2/3 innings in his big-league career and has avoided major injury along the way.

Price signed a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox before last season. He went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA (114 ERA+), 1.20 WHIP and 228 strikeouts in an MLB-high 230 innings. In the last three seasons combined, he’s averaged 233 innings, leading the majors in two of the three seasons. 

Without Price, the Red Sox roll out a rotation consisting of Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz. It’s good, but not nearly as good as a healthy and 2015-form Price joining Sale and Porcello as a three-headed ace monster at the top. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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