Lefty ace Chris Sale will officially be the first pitcher to take the mound for the Boston Red Sox this season. Sale is set to start the team’s season opener on March 29 at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays
Red Sox manager Alex Cora informed Sale that he will be starting Games one and six following his Grapefruit League start against the Phillies.
“I told him after the game yesterday, and he’s like, he was cool and excited about it,” Cora said. “But he wasn’t excited about his performance [against the Phillies]. “I told him, ‘Hey, tomorrow you run the bases, start getting ready, and you got Game one and Game six [an interleague start against the Miami Marlins].”
Although Sale has never started an Opening Day game for the Red Sox, he won all three of his Opening Day Starts with the White Sox, achieving a 2.45 ERA. Last season, he finished in second place for the AL Cy Young Award voting with an impressive 2.90 ERA and a league-best 308 strikeouts.
David Price will follow Sale as the starter for Game two according to Cora. Price had what can be described as a rocky season last year, only making 11 starts. However, Cora is confident that he will be an asset to the pitching staff in 2018.
“He’s huge for us,” Cora said of Price. “He knows it. He’s been saying it the whole time. He understands what he means to this pitching staff. You put him with all those other guys and it looks like a dominant rotation. We’re going to take care of him. We have to. He understands. Everybody understands. It’s not only in Spring Training but throughout the season. We’re thinking long term, not just April, May. We’re very happy where he’s at.”
Kimbrel to return for Opening Day
Closer Craig Kimbrel is expected to be ready for Opening Day, despite dealing with his infant daughter Lydia Joy’s health complications. She was diagnosed with a heart condition soon after she was born and has been receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital Boston ever since.
“There’s no denying it’s been the toughest thing we’ve ever been through,” Kimbrel said in a news conference. “In the last week, her recovery has been unbelievable, and she’s showing great signs.”
Kimbrel returned to the team on Monday after spending three weeks in Boston with his family during Lydia’s second of three surgeries. While in Boston, he was able to get some training in to prepare for the start of the season.
“My family comes first and then baseball comes,” Kimbrel said. “Stepping away for a few hours was definitely a release. It did help to get in the weight room. It did help to throw the ball. But that’s not going to take away the emotions we went through in the hospital. She’s in a good, comfortable place for me to be down here. If she wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”