David Price on Dodgers’ rotation issues: ‘I’ll start if they want me to start’

WASHINGTON — It might be time for David Price to go back to his old job.

Trevor Bauer’s subtraction from their starting rotation for an undetermined period of time has left the Dodgers in the market for a starting pitcher – both in the short and potentially longer term. Tony Gonsolin’s limitations, after missing two months with a shoulder injury and completing four innings just once in his first five outings, make the need more acute.

And the Dodgers have a veteran starter – a Cy Young Award winner in that role – close at hand. Price let the Dodgers know he would step aside for younger starters this spring and accept a bullpen role. Now, he might have to make a round trip back to starting.

“If they want me to start, yeah, that’s an opportunity I’ll take,” Price said before Saturday’s game. “The Dodgers always have a plan. I’m sure they have four or five plans at this point. I’m sure they have a lot of different things they’ve thought of for however many days we have left before the All-Star break to get us to that break.

“If that means me starting, then I’ll start.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has said Bauer’s starts Sunday and Friday will be “bullpen days” now, with Price a possibility to start or at least pitch in “somewhat of a bulk role.”

Price has made three previous starts on bullpen days. But he has pitched a total of only 25 2/3 innings this season, more than two innings in an outing just once (he went 2 2/3 in one of those starts against the Giants) and more than 30 pitches just four times in 22 appearances (none since June 1).

Price acknowledged it would be too much of a burden on the bullpen to have two limited starters in the rotation. But he didn’t think building up to a true starter’s workload, possibly for the second half of the season, would be that challenging.

“I don’t think that it would, honestly, be too tough,” he said. “I mean, I’ve never done it before. Just the way my arm has responded as a reliever. I think that can be a little more taxing than being a starter. Throwing back to back to back and five out of seven can be more challenging than getting ready to pitch once every five days and stuff like that. My arm has responded well and I feel really good.”

When asked how many innings he could pitch as a starter right now, Price turned it into a math problem.

“I mean, nine,” he joked. “If everybody gets out on the second pitch, that’s 54 pitches. I can do that.”

The 35-year-old Price spent 11 big-league seasons almost exclusively as a starting pitcher, making 311 starts, and he admitted he missed some aspects of that – like being in the dugout for four days between starts. But the bullpen role has been a different challenge.

“Honestly, I think it’s more mentally challenging as a reliever,” he said. “You have to be ready a lot more often. As a starter, you know when you’re going to be in the game. The game’s at 7:10. You know you’re going to be out there.”

But he wouldn’t say he would prefer one over the other.

“I don’t care,” he said before referring to young pitchers Dustin May and Gonsolin. “We have a lot of talent on this team. Obviously, D-May got hurt and that was a tough blow for us. But Gonzo, since he’s been out there he’s thrown the ball well. He’s gotten better every time out. I like to see these young guys get their opportunity to go out there and learn. It’s the only way I feel they’re going to learn – to get the opportunity to go out there and start and learn from their mistakes and stuff like it.

“I’ll start if they want me to start.”

Roberts said having Price as a bullpen option with “the ability to deploy David four times a week and impact a game” has been a plus. Price has a 3.86 ERA in that role.

“So to change that – there’s still a cost with any decision we make regarding David’s role, in my opinion,” Roberts said.

“David is open to anything. It’s just not that easy right now.”


Right-hander Edwin Uceta joined the Dodgers on Saturday in Washington and will be added to the roster for Sunday’s bullpen game.

Left-hander Scott Alexander (shoulder) completed his rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City by pitching in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday. He is eligible to come off the Injured List and Roberts said he will join the Dodgers in Miami.

Injured shortstop Corey Seager (hand) will continue to travel with the team for the series in Miami.


Dodgers (TBA) at Nationals (RHP Joe Ross 4-7, 4.12 ERA), 8 a.m. Sunday, SportsNet LA, 570 AM