Red Sox

Drellich: Red Sox wise to give Chris Sale extra rest

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Drellich: Red Sox wise to give Chris Sale extra rest

BOSTON — The history with Chris Sale is clear: he prefers extra rest. The Red Sox are doing that once again, and they're wise to.

Ignoring the amount of time off before his very start of the season, Sale this year has made 16 starts on a standard four days rest. Ten other starts have come with either five or six days rest.

This will wind up as the first year Sale makes more starts on regular rest than extra, but the Sox are looking to balance things out a little more.

"Our rotation will get an extra day this turn through," manager John Farrell said. "And it's likely he [Sale] gets an extra day the next two turns, with Monday being an off day as well [as Thursday]. The wild card in all of this is there's some potential for some weather coming in here towards the ends of this series against Toronto. We'll see how that may affect all of us going forward."

With the Red Sox off Thursday, that puts Sale's next scheduled start Saturday vs. the Rays at home. He could then face the Rays again on Friday, Sept. 15, on the road. There's one more Sox off-day remaining, on Sept. 21, for a total of three left in the regular season.

Could increased command be the gain for Sale? A less tired body should add up to better body control and therefore a better ability to spot pitches.

"I think he’s such a good athlete, to me, he’s the type of pitcher that, the additional days of rest, let’s say he’s pitching on  the seventh day, I don’t think it negatively affects him," Farrell said."But then you look at last night, I think that there were 70 percent strikes thrown. Were there a lot of foul balls? Yes, there were. Were there a lot of pitches that just missed? Yeah, it was a tight strike zone he was pitching to last night. We know the added days of rest given the innings pitched so far this year will be a boost."

In 2016, Sale made 13 starts on regular rest and 18 with extra. In 2015, it was 12 and 18. Through each full season as a starter, the story has been the same. 

After making his All-Star Game start this year, Sale said he has a little more incentive to dominate this year as the season winds down. 

“I think just a little bit more focus,” Sale said of what made him successful in 2016's second half. “I think preparation in between starts, the things that get you fresh, ready to go out there the fifth day. Obviously, we’re in a pretty good position. I think this year I’ll have a little more incentive. There will be a little bit more on the line. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to that."

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is he had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator-cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole-body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.

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“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”

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