Red Sox

Chris Sale's bullpen draws an unusual crowd as Red Sox try to fix struggling LHP

Chris Sale's bullpen draws an unusual crowd as Red Sox try to fix struggling LHP

BOSTON -- A between-starts bullpen doesn't generally require the attendance of the entire pitching staff, but this was no ordinary pitcher.

When Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale took the mound hours before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays in advance of Thursday's start vs. them, he was greeted by a dozen teammates pressed against the bullpen fence to watch him throw, including virtually every pitcher on the roster and both catchers.

They were there to see if they could pick up something that pitching coach Dana LeVangie, manager Alex Cora, or bullpen coach Craig Bjornson had missed, but also to provide encouragement to the most important member of the staff during his most trying season.

"It was teammates being teammates. Just being there and watching," Cora said. "Everybody knows about the game and obviously pitchers know about mechanics and usage and all that, but I think for them to be there it means a lot. It means a lot where we're at as a team and you never know, someone might pick something up that me, Dana or CB hasn't seen. It was good. Sandy (Leon) and Christian (Vazquez) were there too, so you don't see that often. I think that was good for the team to let him know, 'Hey, we're here for you.'"

This has been anything but a typical season for Sale, who is 3-9 with a career-worst 4.27 ERA. He has been particularly bad in his last four starts, going 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA and 29 hits in 21.1 innings.

Sale has repeatedly excoriated himself for feeling lost and being a liability, but the Red Sox believe they can unlock whatever is holding him back.

"You watch, you watch games, and you try to go through the opposition thought process, what they look for, what they did," Cora said. "I think the Dodgers did an outstanding job over the weekend of getting that pitch count up with our starters. Eddie (Rodriguez) did a good job avoiding that, but with David (Price) and Chris, there were a lot of foul balls. That's something that's been happening a lot, especially with those two guys, but we do feel we can make adjustments."

The Blue Jays aren't necessarily the best team for Sale to see. He's 0-3 against them with a 7.98 ERA this season and has allowed four home runs in 14.2 innings.

"It's been tough," Cora said. "He started here the home opener with the foul balls and the ground balls and all of that. We'll see how he does Thursday. I think we have a good idea where we have to go to make this better and he knows it. We're looking forward to Thursday and seeing if we can actually execute the plan and give us a good outing."

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David Price's return to Red Sox rotation still uncertain, will pitch simulated game Tuesday

David Price's return to Red Sox rotation still uncertain, will pitch simulated game Tuesday

With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread (they began the night seven games back of the second AL wild-card spot), the Red Sox could use some good news on the starting pitching front after learning they'll be without Chris Sale the rest of the season.

They didn't get it Friday ahead of the series opener with the Padres in San Diego.

There had been speculation that David Price could be ready to start the series finale Sunday. That won't happen, manager Alex Cora told reporters before the game Friday.

Price, out since Aug. 4 with a cyst on his left wrist, had a bullpen session at Fenway Park on Thursday and will throw a simulated game in Colorado on Tuesday, "then we'll go from there," Cora said.

Eduardo Rodriguez starts Friday night, Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday and Sunday's starter is still to be determined. Lefty Brian Johnson (1-2, 6.58 ERA) had been filling Price's spot in the rotation.

 

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Michael Chavis to begin rehab assignment Friday night in Pawtucket

Michael Chavis to begin rehab assignment Friday night in Pawtucket

Michael Chavis is nearing a return to the Boston Red Sox lineup.

The rookie slugger is set to begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night vs. Buffalo. He was placed on the injured list on Aug. 12 with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder.

Following what was a scorching-hot start to his inaugural campaign, Chavis has seen his fair share of struggles at the plate. The 24-year-old's issues with the high fastball have contributed to him having one of the highest strikeout rates in the league at 33.3 percent (127 Ks in 382 plate appearances). "The Ice Horse" will look to come back healthy and finish the season strong for a Red Sox team that's fighting just to clinch a playoff berth.

Chavis is hitting .254 with 18 HR and 58 RBI in 95 games this year.

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