FORT MYERS, Florida -- Forget those boring "He's in the best shape of his life" spring training stories. Thanks to David Price, we have a new type of spring training mystery: Figure out why the postseason hero is changing his uniform number from 24 to 10.
Price wouldn't reveal the reason for his switch when meeting with reporters Thursday morning.
"I'm going to let you guys figure it out," he said to media members with a smile, perhaps enjoying tweaking those who had criticized him before he helped carry the Boston Red Sox to the World Series title last fall. "It's not that tough. If you know me at all, I feel like you can get it. Somebody will get it and everybody's going to be like, 'Oh, OK. That makes sense.'"
One reporter asked if it had anything to do with the Red Sox winning nine World Series in franchise history. Price said that wasn't the reason, so no Joe Girardi here -- Girardi switched his uniform number while manager of the Yankees from 27 to 28 after the team won its 27th title in 2009.
Another reporter speculated that this meant the Red Sox would be retiring the No. 24 that franchise great Dwight Evans wore for 18 seasons. Price said, to his knowledge, that wasn't happening.
Finally, somebody asked it was a tribute to Hall of Fame left-hander Lefty Grove, who pitched with the Red Sox from 1934 to 1941 and won 300 games in his career.
Nope, although Price was happy to hear Grove wore No. 10. "Sweet. He was a good pitcher," Price said. Hey, it's impressive that Price even knew who Grove was.
That leaves it up to everyone to guess. Price wore No. 14 at Vanderbilt and earlier in his career with the Rays, but that number has been retired in Boston to honor Jim Rice. One idea: Price's 1-year-old son, who made his national TV debut causing mischief during Price's postgame pressers last October, is named Xavier. X is the Roman numeral for 10.
Another theory: Price was 0-9 as a postseason starter in his career before finally picking up the win in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, beating the Astros 4-1 as he tossed six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. That start came on three days of rest as manager Alex Cora skipped over Chris Sale -- who was battling a sore shoulder -- and went with Price on short rest. Price then won both of his World Series starts as well, allowing three runs over 13 innings (he also got two outs in relief in Game 3) and winning the clinching Game 5 over the Dodgers when he allowed just one run over seven innings.
That meant Price got to spend the offseason as a World Series champion for the first time, justifying the big investment the Red Sox made in him before the 2016 season, when they signed him to a seven-year, $217 million contract. Winning it all felt good, but he said it didn't change his offseason.
"The offseason wasn't really different, to be honest," he said. "The first week or two you feel a little better, but other than that I didn't do anything different. I didn't take that big World Series celebration tour like some guys do."
Price could have opted out of the last four years of his contract this winter, but elected to stay with the Red Sox. That seems like a wise decision, at least from a financial perspective. "Have you seen that free-agent market?" he pointed out.
For now, Price is focused on winning it all again. He told the story of hugging manager Alex Cora on the field at Dodger Stadium amidst the celebration and telling him, "Let's do this again."
Price is just happy to be back with his baseball family.
"Obviously, that was the first time in my career the season ended the way we all it wanted it to. Then it's kind of over," he said. "You spend the next two, three days with the guys and after that you're back to normal life. It just kind of stops. So to be back with everybody, it brings back all the memories and everybody is talking about it."
Later Thursday, it seemed the mystery was solved (with help from the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham), with X (for Xavier) marking the spot.
I have confirmed that Chelsea has cracked the code. Well done. You are right. https://t.co/JfYil96DlN— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) February 14, 2019