Blue Jays’ David Price: ‘I’m nervous for every start’

David Price pitches at Yankees Stadium (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Blue Jays ace David Price recently sat down for The Interview with Sportsnet magazine.

Here, in the first of a three-part Q-and-A we’re featuring on this week, the 30-year-old lefty talks about the Jays’ scooter gang, his nerves on the mound, the power in Toronto’s lineup, and what it’s like to be so popular.

In Part 2 (Thurs., Aug. 27) and Part 3 (Fri., Aug. 28) Price covers topics including his love of ice cream, his potential plans to become a Canadian citizen, and what percentage chance he gives himself of being a Blue Jay next year.

Where do you live in Toronto?
You want my address?

No! [Laughs.]

I’m kidding. Do you live in a condo, close to here?
Yeah, I live in a condo. It’s pretty close.

Did you sign a long-term lease on your Toronto condo?
No, I did not sign a long-term lease. [Laughs.]

Did you think about it?
I probably wouldn’t stay in that same place if I was back here next year.

Maybe you could look into buying a house in the next couple of weeks.
I’ll have to wait and see how things play out first.

OK, OK. How do fans react when they see you on the street?
I was riding my scooter back to the Park Hyatt, the hotel I was staying in, and my scooter almost died because I stopped so many times, taking pictures with everybody. It’s a good problem to have.

I heard you got an electric scooter for everyone on the team.
The guys that aren’t making the minimum and have made some money in this game, they paid me. But the guys that haven’t hit arbitration yet, or are still making the league minimum, I took care of those guys, yeah.

Are you a real scooter enthusiast?
I definitely like stuff like that—I rode dirt bikes as a kid, and always rode my bike. James McCann in Detroit, our catcher there, he got one for himself and it just took off. We’d leave every day together from the hotel, we’d ride to the field. We’d all get together after the game, we’d ride back to the hotel. It saves you money; you’re not getting Ubers or cabs or black cars, whatever it is. And it’s just fun.

Who’s in the Jays scooter gang?
A ton of people. Kevin Pillar, [Ryan] Goins, [Josh] Donaldson, [Jose] Bautista, Eddie [Edwin Encarnacion], [Dioner] Navarro.

Do you wear matching leather jackets?
No, not yet. If we can get some custom shirts made or something—and the longer you’re in it, the more miles you get, you get patches. That would be fun. I’ve logged a lot of miles on my scooter.

The Jays bats have been compared to cars crashing and a beer league softball team. How would you describe them?
Beer league softball—that was definitely a compliment. It’s an extremely powerful lineup. All the guys have the ability to hit the ball over the fence, but we have our table setters at the bottom of the lineup that do an extremely good job of just getting on and making sure the top of our lineup has guys on base and in scoring position. It makes it so tough for pitchers. You know you have to make a really good pitch, because if you don’t, it can be three or four runs extremely quickly.

If you were pitching against this team, how would you prepare?
Ooh. It’s definitely a lineup that you have to be locked in for. You can’t take an inning off, you can’t take a pitch off. There’s never a moment where you can kind of relax against this lineup; it’s always threatening. And to be on this side of it, you never feel like you’re out of a game. It doesn’t matter how many outs you have left and how many runs you’re down. With this type of lineup you can always win.

Do you ever feel nervous out there?
Every game I pitch, I’m nervous. Once you throw that first pitch and get out there and get involved in the game, it goes away. But leading up to the game, I’m nervous for every start. Even in spring training I’m nervous. I care too much.

How about your debut here, when you had the bases loaded. Were you nervous then?
No, there weren’t nerves. I needed to make a couple pitches. And I was fortunate enough to get that first out to pop up to Tulo [Troy Tulowitzki] in shallow centre, and he made a really good catch over his shoulder, and then turned and fired a rocket right to Smoakie [Justin Smoak] in front of the mound. That was a very big play. And then to get [Aaron] Hicks with a strikeout and same thing with [Kurt] Suzuki. Those guys have swung the bat well against me in their careers, so those were two good bats. One pitch could have been very big; a guy hits a double down the line or a double in the grass or a home run. I needed to make some pitches in that situation and I was able to do it.

What’s it like to be this popular?
[Laughs.] It’s pretty mind-blowing. I never expected it to get to where it is right now. It’s definitely taken off way more since I was traded here to Toronto. It’s crazy.

It was crazy even before you threw a pitch in a Jays uniform.
Yeah. I always took time for all the fans here in Toronto. I spent my birthday here [in 2011]. People who worked in the camera well would always bring me popcorn. I came out to get it probably 30 minutes before the game, and they had everybody in that section over there sing me “Happy Birthday.” That was probably one of the coolest things that’s happened to me on the baseball field that wasn’t during the game.

What was the coolest?
This year in Boston, we were out there for early BP and a bunch of little league teams were taking a tour of Fenway. All these kids were just going nuts and yelling at me and chanting my name. That was really cool.

This interview appears in the current issue of Sportsnet magazine.

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