David Price is trolling us. When he deadpans about missing his next start or skipping the All-Star Game due to video game injuries, Price is pushing your buttons. Don’t worry about it.

But Trav, he’s so infuriating.

Price takes the mound in the Bronx on Sunday night with a 9-5 record and a 3.66 earned run average. Those aren’t ace numbers, but since the Red Sox added Chris Sale last season, Price doesn’t have to be Boston’s ace. He just needs to take the ball when it’s his turn and give the Red Sox a chance to win. With a few exceptions — big exceptions, to be sure — he has done that. Is he sensitive to criticism? Yes, but he lives his life under a microscope. Everything he does is up for debate.

But Trav, this whole carpal tunnel thing. The quick exit against the Yankees in April with numb fingers. Doesn’t it drive you nuts?

Not really. I don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome, but my fingers get numb in the cold, too. Every time I cover a football game on a chilly Friday night, my fingers are numb by halftime. They get stiff and don’t feel right until Saturday morning. If Price was dealing with anything close to that, it’s no wonder he couldn’t grip a baseball. When my fingers get like that, I can barely grip a pen.

But Trav, you’re not making $30 million a year.

Ah, there it is. The rich elephant in the room.

Ignore what David Price is paid. Like many professional athletes, Price’s paycheck is nuts. One of Price’s paychecks would pay off every mortgage on your street. That’s where the criticism begins. To many fans, money equals infallibility. The bigger the paycheck, the smaller the margin for error. As soon as he signed that contract, many fans had expectations for Price that he could never meet.

But Trav, he stinks.

Not really. Since joining the Red Sox, Price is 32-17, with a 3.80 earned run average. He hasn’t pitched to the level he reached when he won the Cy Young Award in 2012, and an elbow injury limited Price to 11 starts last season, but he’s been a guy every team in the American League would happily put in the rotation.

But, $30 million!

Don’t worry about the money. It’s not your money. The important thing is, Price gives the Red Sox a chance to win every time he pitches.

But he plays video games. A lot of video games.

Price enjoys playing Fortnite. A lot of Fortnite. It may have contributed to the carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortnite is his hobby. You may read to unwind after work, or collect stamps, or even play Fortnite yourself. Each of us needs a distraction away from the office. Most of us don’t work in an office that’s scrutinized by millions of people. Forget about the Fortnite.

But Trav, Price went after Dennis Eckersley.

Yeah, that showed a lack of awareness. If anybody knows the pressures of pitching in big games, it’s Eck. He gave up one of the biggest home runs in history, Kirk Gibson’s game winner in the 1988 World Series, and didn’t let it define his career. Eck is a Hall of Famer, and Price could learn a lot about pitching from him. Price is a smart guy. Vanderbilt University doesn’t admit knuckleheads, even if they can throw a baseball 95 miles per hour. This was not one of Price’s smartest moments, though. We’ve all done things we wish we could take back, and I’m willing to bet Price regrets the way that incident played out. You can continue to beat him up over it. I will not.

But Trav, if the Red Sox had just signed Jon Lester in the first place…

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Red Sox Nation needs to get over the Jon Lester obsession. He’s a great pitcher. They should not have low-balled him, or traded him. They should have driven a dump truck full of money up to his front door. But they didn’t. It was a mistake. He’s gone. He’s not coming back. Loving Jon Lester does not mean you need to hate Price for simply not being Jon Lester. Move on.

But Lester is so much better than Price in the postseason.

In his career, Price’s postseason record is 2-8, with a 5.08 ERA. Not good. Price will never shake that stigma until he wins a playoff game in Boston. Even that won’t be enough for many fans, who will compare Price unfavorably to Lester until their last breath. They’ll look past any Price success and right at his salary. Price knows this, and that’s why he makes sarcastic comments about missing starts with minor injuries. He doesn’t care if fans embrace him, and that drives fans even crazier. For all the talk about players loving fans, the fans desperately want to be loved back.

You don’t like Price, but you need Price to pitch well, especially Sunday night in the Bronx, in a pennant chase that looks like it will go back and forth all summer.

But Trav —

No buts. If you’re a Red Sox fan, rooting against Price is foolish. If he succeeds, the Red Sox succeed. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t matter what Price’s postseason record is now, because they won’t be there in October.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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