The ace can not only set the tone for a game, but also a season. And that's why enthusiasm around the Red Sox is bubbling over for Monday's Opening Day in Cleveland (4:10 p.m. ET), when David Price makes his first official start for his new team.
Life without an ace last year was unkind for the Red Sox, who finished in last place in the American League East for the second consecutive season.
Price will try to lead the charge for a team that is looking to get back among the contenders.
"Well, we've added a guy who is very comfortable with that label, that No. 1 guy that other players look up to, whether you're a pitcher or a position player," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "They look to that one guy knowing that when he walks to the mound, we've got a chance to beat anyone we go up against."
Being a No. 1 starter is not a burden for Price. It is a role he relishes.
"I enjoy it, absolutely," said Price. "It's something I definitely take a lot of pride in."
Playing for his third team since July 2014, Price looks forward to settling in with Boston after signing a seven-year, $217 million contract.
"I'm very excited," Price said. "We've got a good fountain of youth here. It's going to be great just to feed off all these young guys, to go out there and have the good veteran leaders we have as well. We have a really good mix of youth and veteran guys. You need that, and we definitely have that."
And the veterans and the young players also plan on feeding off of Price.
"You know what you get whenever he goes out on the mound," said Red Sox right-handerClay Buchholz. "The teams he's been on have been able to lean on him for an extended period of time to go out and give the team what he's got every time he goes out."
For Price, it starts on Monday, when he pitches Opening Day for the fifth time in his career, but first on the road.
"It's definitely different," Price said of Opening Day. "You have the added adrenaline. It's a great day. It's a holiday in a lot of cities. It's very special. To get to be a part of it for whatever team you're playing for is a special moment.
"But it's no different. The mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches, even on Opening Day. So just control your emotions, go out there and get outs and give us a chance to win."
The lefty will open against an opponent he's thrived against through the years, going 9-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 13 career starts.
"I've spent my entire career in this league, so it's one thing I definitely benefited from by signing back in the American League and in the AL East in particular," Price said. "I know a lot of these teams. I faced them a lot. Especially last year with Detroit, being in the Central and facing the Indians probably four or five times last year. They're a team I'm very familiar with, and I know what I need to do."
Of course, Price has played with enough contenders to know he can't do it alone.
"Everybody has to do their part," Price said. "It's not all on anybody's shoulders. We're going to have 25 pieces to that puzzle once Opening Day starts. If all 25 guys can just do their part and don't try to do too much and just do what you can do, we feel like we can be very successful."