Red Sox

Chris Sale appears poised to make his real 2019 debut, and Alex Cora called it

Chris Sale appears poised to make his real 2019 debut, and Alex Cora called it

When it comes to Tuesday afternoon's start against the Tigers, you're either with Chris Sale or Alex Cora.

Sign me up for Team Cora.

Let's explain: Last week in New York, Sale lost his fourth straight outing to open the season. This one differed from its predecessors in that Sale routinely hit 97 mph and featured better action on his slider. Command remained an issue, however, and the Yankees teed off for seven mostly loud hits and four runs in five innings, including a homer by Clint Frazier, in an 8-0 victory over the Red Sox.

Afterwards, you could choose from two options. Cora took the long view. Sale threw hard and rediscovered most of his arsenal. We'd be seeing the perennial Cy Young candidate real soon.

"I'm not going to be surprised if his next outing he's right where we need him to be," Cora said after the whitewashing. "Stuff-wise, compare it to the first three -- the velocity was there, the slider was a lot better, he's very close to the quote-unquote real Chris Sale."

Then there was the Sale approach of self-flagellation.

"It sucks!" he said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now. I don't know what it is. When you're going good, it's good. When you're going bad, it's pretty bad. You know, show up tomorrow, put on the shoes and get back after it."

Did he share his manager's confidence in a quick turnaround?

"We better (expletive) hope so," he declared.

So which is it? Cora's optimism or Sale's fatalism?

There was simply more to feel good about than bad last Tuesday, no matter the final numbers. The Sale who struggled to throw 89 mph fastballs in Oakland -- thanks to illness, we now know -- had us worried about the health of his shoulder. He finished last year injured and then started this one throwing like Frank Tanana. Not good, especially in light of a five-year, $145 million extension. His transformation from machine-gunner to tactician was at least supposed to wait until the new deal actually kicked in next year.

Sale didn't exhibit those same underlying physical issues on Tuesday, though. He threw 23 fastballs of at least 95 mph and six times topped 97. Per Baseball Savant, he hadn't thrown a single 95-mph fastball all season.

The problem was location and the Yankees unloaded, ripping seven balls with exit velocities of at least 100 mph. Five of them went for hits, including Frazier's homer, which came on a hanging changeup. Sale also hung a slider to Mike Tauchman, who bounced a double into the right field corner.

New York's other five hits came on fastballs. As a means of comparison, Sale allowed an average exit velocity of only 84.7 mph last year, which ranked fifth among starters.

"Need to get results," Sale said on Tuesday. "Doesn't matter how hard you throw or how fancy, you need to throw up zeroes."

While that's true, we need to see Sale's starts in context. Last week's was the first that featured something approximating his healthy arsenal. Given his track record -- six straight top-five finishes in the Cy Young voting, three straight All-Star Game starts -- it's fair to assume that if he continues throwing that hard with that much movement on his slider, he'll look like Chris Sale again sooner than later.

Let's also not underestimate the value of his other attributes, like competitiveness, mental toughness, and tenacity. A  1-0 loss to Oakland showed that he can still record outs while barely breaking 90 mph, because he knows how to pitch.

Cora is betting on it all coming together in his next start. A snarling Sale refuses to make any assumptions, because that's not how he's wired.

The manager is paid to see the big picture, though, and in this case I'm with him -- it may have taken a month, but don't be surprised if the real Chris Sale finally makes his 2019 debut this week.

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David Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, shares touching Father's Day tribute to Big Papi

David Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, shares touching Father's Day tribute to Big Papi

This Father's Day hit close to home for Tiffany Ortiz.

Sunday marked exactly one week since Tiffany's husband, former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, was shot outside a bar in the Dominican Republic.

Ortiz sustained serious injuries but is in stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital and expected to make a full recovery, which had Tiffany counting her blessings in a Father's Day Instagram tribute to "Big Papi."

View this post on Instagram

This Fathers Day brings with it a new appreciation for life and an awareness in what truly matters. This man, my husband, the father of our beautiful children has been the center of our universe for as long as we have been together (23years strong). It has been deeply felt that the outside world also acknowledges his presence as a father figure to all. Please celebrate this Papi’s Day with the ones you love. Be present in every moment, don’t get hung up on gifts, material things, titles, fame or fortune. Those things can be taken away in a moments notice and all we are left with is the memories of the moments we truly connected and grounded ourselves in true love ❤️ #PapisDay #Fathersday #surroundyourselveswithreallove #groundyourselfinnature #connectwithgod #allwehaveisthepresentmoment #familyovereverything #weallhaveapurposeinlife #iambeyondgrateful #pleasekeepPapiinyourprayers 🙏🏽💙

A post shared by Tiffany Ortiz (@tlortiz) on

Juliana Ramirez, the wife of Ortiz's former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez, was among thousands to comment on Tiffany's post with their well wishes.

David and Tiffany's two children, DeAngelo and Alexandria, also posted Instagram tributes to their father Sunday, as the family is sticking close together while Ortiz recovers.

View this post on Instagram

A late Happy Father’s Day to my day one. Nothing more to say other than thank you for the sacrifices you have made to give not only me but our entire family the whole world in our eyes. You have worked so tremendously hard while not fully enjoying the fruits of your labor. The thing you said today that made me pause was: “sorry, this isn’t the way we should celebrate Father’s Day.” Shortly after I replied “we still have Dominican Father’s Day” through invading tears as I can’t wait to show you the Game of Thrones inspired gift. Also, unrelated, I can now read Tarot cards only in terms of Game of Thrones. Feliz día de los padres tardío a mi papá. No queda mucho por decir mas que darte las gracias por los sacrificios que has hecho para darme no solo a mi sino a toda nuestra familia el mundo en nuestros ojos. Has construido una vida tremenda incluso sin poder disfrutar de tus frutos. Lo que dijiste hoy que me hizo pausar fue: “perdóname, así no es que celebramos el Día del Padre.” Poco después, te respondí “Aún tenemos el Día del Padre Dominicano,” a través de las lágrimas que me invadían. No puedo esperar a enseñarte tu regalo inspirado en Game of Thrones. En otra nota, puedo leer cartas del Tarot relacionadas a Game of Thrones.

A post shared by Alexandria Ortiz (@alex.veda.ortiz) on

Alexandria included an emotional detail in her post, mentioning that Ortiz told her Sunday, "sorry, this isn’t the way we should celebrate Father’s Day."

But the Ortiz clan seems to be rallying around David, just as authorities attempt to administer justice in the expanding case: Nine suspects now have been indicted in connection to Ortiz's shooting, while a 10th has turned himself in.

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Report details separate attempt to harm David Ortiz months before shooting

Report details separate attempt to harm David Ortiz months before shooting

Police have indicated the attempt on David Ortiz's life last Sunday night was part of a (somewhat) coordinated plan.

It also may not have been the first attempt to murder or harm the former Boston Red Sox slugger.

The New York Daily News' Teri Thompson and Christian Red describe an incident involving Ortiz that took place in the Dominican Republic months before Sunday's shooting, citing three sources, including one "with knowledge of the Ortiz case."

From the Daily News:

The sources claim Ortiz’s white Lexus was chased and cut off by a black Mercedes SUV before crashing in front of a firehouse. Firefighters came to his assistance, according to the sources, but an official report is not believed to have been made. The incident did not appear in the media.

It isn't clear who was involved in that attempt to run Ortiz off the road, and whether they had a connection to those involved in Ortiz's shooting last Sunday in the Dominican.

But the scope appears to be widening in the Ortiz case, as police now have indicted nine suspects involved in Sunday's shooting -- including the alleged gunman, Rolfi Ferreira-Cruz -- while a tenth suspect has turned himself in.

Reports suggest at least two of those suspects have ties to the United States; Ferreira-Cruz was indicted in New Jersey in 2017 in a robbery case, while Luis Rivas-Clase is suspected to be the same person wanted in a 2018 shooting in Reading, Pa.

Amid reports that last Sunday's attack on Ortiz may have been orchestrated from prison, a source told the Daily News: "That hit could have easily happened in the U.S."

Ortiz was still in Massachusetts General Hospital's intensive care unit as of late last week as he recovers from multiple surgeries to repair liver and kidney damage, according to his wife, Tiffany.

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