Red Sox

Red Sox well aware how big an addition Sale is to pitching staff

Red Sox well aware how big an addition Sale is to pitching staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Chris Sale is a public figure in name only. Off the field, the Red Sox' newly acquired left handed pitcher is known for keeping a low profile. He has a social-media footprint similar to Bill Belichick’s . . . which is to say, none at all. 

But there's one reason Sale will have a much harder time going incognito on the field: His size, He's listed as 6-foot-6 and that, coupled with his pitching stature, made him a standout Monday on the first day of spring training.

“I’ve watched him for quite a few years now.” said fellow lefty David Price. “There’s really nobody that’s like him as a starter in baseball with that arm angle and his height and just how long his arms are. He can make some pretty weird swings from those hitters, so it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Sale put on the kind of show that left Cy Young winners Price and Rick Porcello impressed. They stood behind Sale while he was throwing last week to get a better idea of what hitters are up against. 

Price explained the difficulty on Monday.

“You can see from behind how much of a  problem he causes for hitters just from his angle and his deception," Price said. "You add on 95, 96, 97 and then his slider and his change up . . . it’s fun.”

Fun for observers, maybe. But for hitters, it's a nightmare. 

Sale’s slider is deadly. He used the pitch nearly a quarter of the time in 2016 (24.9 percent) and got hitters to swing and miss on 35.5 percent of his sliders. 

“It’s hard to pick up,” explained Jackie Bradley Jr, “Throws upper 90 and has a slider that starts out in the batter’s box behind you and ends up in the other batter’s box. Good luck.”

Thankfully for Joe Kelly, Sale eased into things on Monday. Kelly caught Sale during a long-toss session, a simple exercise that required more concentration than usual. 

"The first couple of throws was kind of tough.” Kelly said. “Like softball, you have to change where you’re looking at. I started looking at his hip to see where the ball would come out and picked it up a little better.”

The scouting report on Sale is lengthy, but Bradley Jr was concise in his overall assessment of the Red Sox newest starting pitcher:

“Glad he’s on our side.” 

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.