It doesn’t take a ton to work the Boston sports media into a lather, so the notion that David Price’s case of carpal tunnel syndrome might be related to his enthusiasm for playing video games had a predictable effect. After taking heavy criticism — not least because his injury caused him to miss a start against the archrival Yankees — Price denied Thursday that his pitching-hand woes were the result of too much Fortnite, but nonetheless said he would stop playing the game in the Red Sox clubhouse.
“If that was the cause of the problem, then it started back in 1997 when I got my first PlayStation when I was 12 years old,” Price said (via masslive.com). “I’ve always played video games.
“I’ve always played it with my teammates in the offseason, at the field, at the hotel,” he continued. “It’s kind of my generation. That’s what we do. If I need to shut down video games and pick up a new hobby, then so be it. But I do not think that’s the cause.”
The diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, as relayed Wednesday to the media by Manager Alex Cora, came as relatively positive news, given that Price had complained of numbness in his fingers, which could have indicated a more worrisome problem. The 11th-year veteran said he underwent MRI exams on his elbow, shoulder and forearm, and that doctors indicated his throwing arm was in “pristine” condition.
But while Price promised that he will be “pitching the rest of the year,” he also said he “won’t be playing [Fortnite] at the field.”
“It’s already caused enough noise,” Price said. “That’s not the issue. I promise you that.”
Much of that “noise” emerged in the wake of a story this week by Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic, in which she wrote, “The Fortnite phenomenon has invaded the Red Sox clubhouse.” McCaffrey quoted Price as saying that he and some teammates regularly play the popular game for hours at a time, and adding, “You can lose track of time whenever you’re playing it.”
That revelation had some Boston columnists disapprovingly connecting the dots to Price’s diagnosis. It didn’t help that the left-hander hasn’t lived up to the seven-year, $217 million contract he signed with the Red Sox in December 2015, with a 2017 season marred by elbow and forearm injuries as well as contentious incidents with the media.
“Now, I suppose there could be no correlation between Price’s new injury and a new video game that is eating up to one-eighth of Price’s daily routine,” the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman wrote. “But until I hear or read about some other explanation for the sudden onset of carpal tunnel syndrome in a pitcher, I’ll go with what’s in front of our face for now.”
“We have our goofy story from this epic May series in the Bronx,” the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote. “ … David Price missed the big Yankee series, possibly because of too much ‘Fortnite.’
It’s little wonder, then, that Price struck something of a defensive tone when speaking with reporters at his locker Thursday. “I was born in 1985. So that’s the video game generation,” he said, adding that since he joined the Red Sox, he’s played “the least amount of video games I’ve ever played being in Major League Baseball.”
Noting that some players for the Brewers recently engaged in a Fortnite battle while using their stadium’s center field scoreboard as a giant video monitor, Price said, “I know a lot of teams, a lot of guys are really into it. I’m going to sleep with a brace on. Doing stuff like that, make sure my wrist stays locked back and doesn’t get bent up under me.”
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