USA Today Sports

Why is David Price better? James Shields has an opinion

Rob Bradford
August 31, 2018 - 10:22 am

CHICAGO -- Much has been made of how David Price has evolved back into an ace.

He moved across the pitching rubber. The pitch-mix is different. Sandy Leon has become his catcher.

But one of the players who knows Price best, his former teammate in Tampa Bay James Shields, has a different opinion.

"He’s just trying to have fun with baseball again," Shields told Thursday. "He’s trying to bring that little kid back in him. I honestly watched him pitch and he’s not doing too many things differently on the mound than he was last year or the year before. To me, it just looks like he’s having fun and enjoying the game again. When David does that he becomes one of the best pitchers in the game."

Price and Shields were not only teammates with the Rays from 2008 until the righty was dealt to Kansas City prior to the 2013 season, but the pair developed a sort of protege-mentor type of relationship. It left them bonded throughout their major league careers, resulting in constant communication to this day.

But watching and talking to Price over the past few years, Shields noticed a difference in his former rotation-mate. The happy-go-lucky pitcher he knew wasn't being portrayed as such in Boston.

"It did. It definitely did surprise me," Shields said of the change in Price. "But I understand how this game works sometimes. This game is very media-driven. It’s very fanbase-driven. At the end of the day as a player we just have to focus what we can do out on the baseball field and one of the main things we can control is how we approach the game. Whether you do good, bad or indifferent, you always want to have fun and enjoy the game and enjoy the moments. I think he’s really doing that now. I’m really happy for him."

Talking to Shields, it's clear there is a sense of satisfaction in not only seeing Price pitch to his capabilities again but knowing he's doing it with the same approach born from duo's day with the Rays.

"David never surprises me. He never surprises me," said the 36-year-old White Sox pitcher, who is scheduled to go against the Red Sox Sunday. "He’s one of those players no matter what he’s going to always have fun and enjoy the game. He’s too much of a little kid at heart not to. He’s going to be good for a long time."