Red Sox

Sale appreciative, but not fazed by Red Sox fan base

Sale appreciative, but not fazed by Red Sox fan base

It’s no secret Chris Sale has been the number one topic of discussion in the Red Sox offseason, aside from everyone making a case why David Ortiz should or will come back -- it’s not happening by the way.

Now Sale’s pitched in Boston before -- sporting a 3.63 ERA with 23 punch-outs through 22 1/3 innings -- so he has an idea of what he’s in for.

“Last year was nothing that I didn’t expect,” Price said when asked if he’d warned Sale about what he was getting into. “I’ve probably spent more time in Boston than he has in his career, being that I was in Tampa for so long and in the same division. But you see it from the other side you see the passion.

“You get to know what it’s about. (As a visitor) when (the Red Sox) are going good, you’re like, ‘We need to get out of here, this is not a place that is gonna easy to win in right now.’”


And Sale’s learned quickly how Red Sox fans are fairly invested.

“They have a lot of fans,” Sale said with big laugh. “It’s great, it’s a passion. You can feel it . . . You can’t help but to feed off that and have certain energy going into the season with all that.”

As much as Sale has experience at Fenway Park and learned about the fans coming in, nothing could prepare him for the welcome he received when festivities were kicked off at Red Sox Winter Weekend.

“[I was] kind of blown away,” Sale said when asked for his initial reaction to the ovation he received. “This is my first time being able to interact with new fans and this fan base. For that to be my first impression is incredible. It’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

“Hopefully I’ll hear that a few more times.”


All that being said, Sale’s enjoying the moment, but won’t allow himself to be consumed by it. He’s not worried about pleasing the fans or breaking the trend of great pitchers struggling their first year in Boston.

He’s just looking to get hitters out.

“I mean it’s the same game,” Sale said. “No matter what uniform you’re wearing, what ballpark you’re pitching in, it’s still strike one, strike two and strike three. I just try to keep the same mindset.

“I think a lot of things involved make me feel a little bit more comfortable. Spring Training being in Southwest Florida, being able to spend some more time at my house, I’ve lived there for ten years. Plus Boston’s been a city I’ve loved to travel to; it’s a city my wife comes to during the year when I was in Chicago. We love it here, so that’ll help, as well.”

Sounds a little different from what Boston has heard from past newcomers.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."