Fortnite fiasco engulfing Red Sox pitcher Price

David Price sheers on his teammates from the dugout.Is a video game behind David Price’s ugly earned run average? That’s what Boston sports media are wondering, putting the popular online game called Fortnite into an unlikely spotlight. Price revealed his habit of playing Fortnite during downtime in the clubhouse last week in a recent interview, and he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome on Wednesday, leaving Red Sox beat reporters to connect the dots. Price said numbness in his pitching hand isn’t unusual, but it’s clear his start to 2018 is not up to his usual standards.

Price has a 5.11 ERA through seven starts, and he hasn’t earned a win since April 17. His last three starts were particularly bad, and he allowed nine runs in just over three innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers in his most recent appearance. Price is a former Cy Young award winner, and he began the season in fine form with a pair of seven-inning shutout performances against the Tampa Bay Rays, making his precipitous drop in effectiveness stand out even more.

Fortnite has exploded in popularity over the last year, and Price is far from the only athlete to be swept up by the free game’s charm. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is an avid fan, as are members of the Milwaukee Brewers, who played the game using their ballpark’s jumbotron. Many other Red Sox players enjoy Fortnite as well, including Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez. But Price is being singled out due to his performance and his untimely ailment, and as a result he will no longer play Fortnite at the ballpark to avoid the distraction it is causing.

Price’s next scheduled start is Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. He threw a 40-pitch practice session on Thursday to test his hand, and it seems he will make the Saturday start after missing his scheduled appearance on Wednesday. One surefire way for Price to get Red Sox reporters from focusing on his video game habits is to bounce back on the mound and deliver some solid starts, because no one asks questions like that when you’re winning.