Red Sox

Drellich: Sale's a success, no matter what happens Thursday


Drellich: Sale's a success, no matter what happens Thursday

HOUSTON -- The weight on Chris Sale, the pressure on a bubble of insulation he maintains better than most, is immense.
There is the most basic element entering Thursday’s Division Series at Minute Maid Park, that he is pitching Game 1, on the road, opposite Astros ace Justin Verlander. A win feels close to a must.
“It's going to be a grind. It's kind of like the first person to blink,” Verlander said Wednesday. “As a starting pitcher, you love those battles.”
But Verlander has an otherworldly offense behind him. Sale does not. Sale is the closest thing to certainty the Red Sox have
A year ago, the Sox offense was baseball’s best, and was immediately silenced come the postseason. The starting pitching didn’t exactly help matters, but the bats were what carried the Sox in 2016, and they disappeared until it was too late. 
This year’s Sox team is about pitching. It’s about Sale more than any other individual.
Less than 12 months into his time in Boston, the lefty’s success in his first career playoff outing -- or lack thereof -- could have a disproportionate effect on his public standing. It should not, because he accomplished so much already. But it probably will.
"It's exciting. A lot of hard work goes into this," Sale said. "Ups and downs of the season, battling the travel and all this other stuff. So to be sitting here right now is pretty fulfilling."
Sale already quieted talks of the first-year jinx with the Sox. He had no trouble adjusting to the market that loves to consider itself the market. That’s a prime reason John Farrell believes Sale won’t look different in his first postseason outing.
“I think this somewhat compares to the way he came into Boston following the trade,” said the Sox manager. “He has handled it without distraction. He’s handled it with I think a consistency to his routine and being true to himself, who he is as a performer, as a pitcher. I would venture to say, knowing Chris the person, that the same approach will be applied tomorrow. 
“And I think the beauty inside of Chris Sale is that he focuses solely on the things that he can control, something as simple as command in the count. Strike one. Keeping it pretty much to the basics. He's done such an excellent job of that coming in with all the expectations and the highlight from the trade. He's handled it beautifully and I would suspect at this stage, this next set of games in which he's going to experience for the first time will be handled the same way.”
It’s easy to imagine the adulation for a win. It’s easy to hear the scorn that would follow a loss -- particularly if the Sox then dropped the Division Series . . . or, worse, were swept. 
Sale has said the right things since being traded from the White Sox. He’s performed as well as anyone, better than anyone, could hope. He wants the ball on short rest in Game 4, if need be.
“Three days' rest, I'm in,” Sale said. “This is what I live for. I'm throwing until my arm falls off.”
In Sale, the Sox have arguably the best pitcher in the majors, the reincarnation of Randy Johnson. He may win the American League Cy Young. 
But his 300 strikeouts will be so quickly forgotten if he doesn’t do well. It’s a battle David Price faced to an extent last year and into this year, albeit in a different scenario. 
Price’s overall effectiveness in 2016 was not fully recognized because of his poor postseason start and a higher-than-expected ERA in the regular season. Sale was a much better pitcher in 2017 than Price was in 2016, and Price was no slouch.
It’s almost sad, if you think about the potential for perception to be skewed based on one game. Sale should be regarded as excellent no matter what. His ability to pitch under pressure should not be judged on one outing. 
Yet, that does seem to be the nature of the beast when one is an ace for the Red Sox. You can start go through an offseason, make 35 starts, be king of the world as expected -- and then no one cares. Or too few care.


Yankees GM believes Red Sox are still AL East favorites

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Yankees GM believes Red Sox are still AL East favorites

The Yankees really outdid themselves this offseason, adding slugger Giancarlo Stanton to their already powerful batting order.

Bringing Stanton to New York is a pretty horrifying prospect for anyone in the AL East. Especially considering the Bronx Bombers already have Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius.

Most MLB fans are already leaning toward crowning the Yankees AL East champions.

But Brian Cashman says not so fast.

The Yankees GM believes that there's still work to do in order to top the Red Sox, and rightfully so. His team is still in the early portions of spring training. 

“They’re the AL East champs, so we’re not on equal footing,” Cashman said to media on Wednesday. “We were the Wild Card. They had the title within the division last year. I don’t know if they’re putting a flag up for it or not, but they are the AL East champs, we are not. So we are not on equal footing until we take that away from them, while at the same time preventing anybody that finished behind us from surpassing us and joining the fray.

Cashman even goes on to compliment the roster moves the O's and Blue Jays have executed this offseason.

“Toronto’s done a lot of work on its roster. Baltimore is starting to make some signs. So, no, we’re not on the same ground because they are the AL East champions, and until someone takes that away from them, you’ve got to pay homage.”

Does anyone actually buy the Yanks are underdogs to the Sox? Probably not.

But Cashman wants to make sure he is respectful and wouldn't want to provide any extra motivation for Boston to feed off.


Martinez's signing delayed, but no problems anticipated

Martinez's signing delayed, but no problems anticipated

FORT MYERS, Fla. --  After this winter, what’s a little more waiting?

J.D. Martinez arrived at JetBlue Park on Wednesday morning and was examined during the day. There was a possibility the Red Sox would finish the day by introducing Martinez in his new uniform -- that his agreed-upon, five-year deal would become official.


We’re going to have to wait until Thursday at the earliest. 

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Wednesday evening told ESPN and NBC Sports Boston that he does not expect Martinez to be in workouts on Thursday. Nonetheless, all indications to this point are that the hold-up is related to the logistics of reviewing Martinez’s medicals.

The Sox are awaiting the results of Martinez’s medical exam(s), which can sometimes include different opinions from different doctors in different places. The Sox’ medical staff is, naturally, Boston-based. Specialists can sometimes be involved.

Media waited around JetBlue Park on Wednesday for word on a press conference’s scheduling. Naturally, there is a sense of the unknown attached to waiting with such a major acquisition.


But with a deal this large and a player this impactful, the chances of anything going awry to the point a deal deteriorates are slim. The Sox have every right to make sure they’re making a sound investment, and there’s no need to rush a press conference. Contracts can be reworked in the instance something is discovered in Martinez’s exam. But, again, there is no evidence the Sox and Martinez are in that territory.

Martinez has had injuries in recent years. A collision with an outfield wall in 2016 left Martinez with a non-displaced fracture of the radial neck of the right elbow. To begin the 2017 season, Martinez had a sprained Lisfranc ligament in his right foot.