Red Sox

Chris Sale turns in forgettable performance on Opening Day

Chris Sale turns in forgettable performance on Opening Day

SEATTLE -- Chris Sale doesn’t shy away from big moments. He relished the opportunity to take the ball for the last out in the World Series and the first pitch of a new season.

It is a feat that has only been accomplished two other times in the history of baseball. Madison Bumgarner did it for the San Francisco Giants in 2014-15. Scott McGregor of the Orioles was the last to achieve it in the American League  in 1983-84.

“I hope we have this same conversation again,” said Sale. 

What Sale doesn’t want is the back end of a historic moment to go the way it did on Thursday in Seattle.  

He didn’t mince words after the 12-4 loss to the Mariners.

“It sucks,” Sale said. “First one of the year. You want to start off on the right foot.”

The Red Sox left-hander did cruise through the first inning, striking out the side. 

And then the wheels came off. 

By the time Sale walked off the mound after three innings he had allowed seven earned runs, including three home runs. He did not allow that many earned runs or home runs in a single game all of last season. In fact, it was his worst start in a Red Sox uniform.

“He was very erratic with fastball location,” manager Alex Cora said. “And his slider wasn’t great."

Sale insisted on Wednesday that he wouldn’t hold back to start this season despite missing time last year with shoulder issues. Sale also dismissed the idea that signing an extension and turning 30 on Friday alters his perspective.

“If I have a ball in my hand and I’m standing on the mound and it’s go time, I’m going to compete as hard as I can as long as I can.”

No one can argue the compete part, but Sale didn’t last very long. He was replaced after three innings and a whopping 76 pitches.

The reality is, the Sale we saw Thursday night is not the guy we’ll be watching in a few weeks. He only pitched in two spring training games and is still building up arm strength and stamina. 

But neither Sale or Cora felt a light workload was the issue on Opening Day. 

“I should be able to go out there and get it done no matter how many starts I have,” Sale said. “No matter what kind of stuff I have that day."

The Sox seem willing to sacrifice a few early season contests if it means winning games when it really counts. 

“He was ready to pitch," Cora said. "We have a plan. We believe in our plan.”

But I wouldn’t blame any Sox fans for being slightly worried. Sale is the guy you expect to set the tone. He’s also the guy who dealt with mild left shoulder inflammation last season and never quite looked the same after going on the injured list. (The artist formerly known as the disabled list.)

When asked if there is anything wrong with him physically, Sale was short but direct. “No,” he said.

The concern outside the clubhouse is because Sale looked more like the guy we saw sporadically in August and September. His velocity was down. His fastball was up. 

Newsflash: That’s not a great combination. 

It would be silly to panic over one start. But it is OK to worry. A little. 

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MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in a reunion with Rick Porcello

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in a reunion with Rick Porcello

The Boston Red Sox may be trying to cut some payroll this offseason, but that isn't going to stop them from targeting some free agents. And that may include one of their own.

According to Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald, the Red Sox are having talks with Rick Porcello about a potential reunion. While the Red Sox may be interested in Porcello, Mastrodonato wrote that "it's unclear how aggressive the Red Sox will be in their pursuit."

He also noted that a short-term, incentive-based contract may make sense for both sides.

Porcello, soon to be 31, has spent the past five seasons with the Red Sox after being acquired in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier. He won the Cy Young Award in his second year with the team, 2016, but he has had issues in the seasons since that campaign.

In 2019, Porcello endured his worst campaign as a pro, logging a career-worst 5.52 ERA and 7.4 K/9, his worst mark since joining the Red Sox. Still, he posted a 14-12 record and still profiles as a solid back-end starter because of his ability to eat innings.

We'll soon see if the Red Sox end up being involved in the Porcello sweepstakes. If they are involved, they will have competition and may find themselves facing off with the likes of the New York Mets, who reportedly have an interest in Porcello.

Where Porcello ranks among the MLB's top 10 free agent starting pitchers>>>

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Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

Travis Shaw says return to Boston Red Sox 'makes sense on paper'

After being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers, could a return to the Boston Red Sox be in order for Travis Shaw?

With Mitch Moreland hitting free agency, the Red Sox should be in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. That makes Shaw an obvious fit, and the 29-year-old agrees a reunion with Boston would make sense.

Shaw discussed the situation with Rob Bradford on WEEI's Bradfo Sho podcast

"I got non-tendered this week. It was kind of a hard decision. The Brewers did offer me but I decided I kind of wanted a fresh start and was willing to risk to see what was out there free agent-wise," Shaw told Bradford. "Just wanted a fresh start after everything that happened last year. Like you said, [signing with the Red Sox] makes sense on paper now we’ll see with who else call or what other teams call. That’s kind of what we’re sorting through now. We’ve had quite a bit of interest so far over this week which is an encouraging sign for me. We’ll just go from there."

Before the 2017 season, the Red Sox traded Shaw to the Brewers in the deal that brought reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In his first two years with Milwaukee, Shaw was an integral part of the offense with 30+ home runs and an OPS well above .800. Last season, however, Shaw missed some time with a wrist injury and saw his production dip significantly.

Assuming Shaw can return to the type of player we saw in '17 and '18, he makes for an intriguing option for Boston in free agency. Along with his potential at the plate, Shaw brings versatility to the table as he can adequately play multiple positions.

Right-handed sluggers Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec currently are the Red Sox' options at first base. Chavis was solid in his 2019 rookie campaign, and Dalbec enters 2020 as one of the organization's top prospects.

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