Red Sox

Report: Previously undisclosed toe injury was holding Sale back

Report: Previously undisclosed toe injury was holding Sale back

Chris Sale's 17-strikeout performance this week made you almost forget about the lost pitcher with an 8.50 ERA after four starts who was saying, "I don't know if I've ever pitched like this in my life."

While Sale insisted he was healthy back when he was struggling, Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic reports that the Red Sox ace lefty was dealing with a previously undisclosed toe injury that contributed to the alarming drop in velocity and led to an 0-5 April.

“Chris’ spring training was different,” Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie told McCaffrey. “We tried to do the exact same things we did last year. The only difference is, Chris was going through contract negotiations, [but] he had a little bit of a toe injury that slowed him down a little bit, so there were some things that led up to the early-on stuff. I basically felt like he was going through his spring training, sort of in April.”

Another adjustment, LeVangie said, was Sale's arm path. “We wanted a cleaner line going back, rather than straight behind him and it didn’t allow him to work more back to front in his delivery.” 

The improved extension the arm path tweak has added velocity to the fastball and, according to The Athletic Analytics guru Eno Sarris, Sale is releasing the ball an inch closer to the batter than before. "It doesn't allow the hitter to see the ball so long," said LeVangie.

Sale hit 96 mph once on the Fenway gun while striking out 17 Rockies on Tuesday and while the days of him regularly topping out at 97-99 appear gone, he's been effective at 93-94 with a devastating slider and there's no arguing with his recent numbers: a 1.29 ERA in three May starts with 10, 14 and 17 strikeouts. 

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Ron Roenicke recalls losing World Series from most painful vantage point imaginable

Ron Roenicke recalls losing World Series from most painful vantage point imaginable

Ron Roenicke sprinted towards second base and into the face of a human tidal wave that stopped him dead in his tracks. The magical run of the 1984 Padres was over.

Roenicke may not be the first player that comes to mind on a San Diego team that included Tony Gwynn, Steve Garvey, and Goose Gossage.

But he was the last Padre to run the bases, affording him the relatively rare vantage point of watching a World Series celebration unfold at ground zero.

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We remember final outs of various Fall Classics for the reactions of the pitcher and catcher, whether it's Jesse Orosco tossing his glove joyously in 1986 or Jason Varitek jumping into the arms of Keith Foulke in 2004.

But what about the losing players, the ones who helplessly watch their dreams go up in smoke while engulfed in delirious bedlam? Roenicke knows that feeling, and he won't soon forget it.

He was on first base in Tiger Stadium when Tony Gwynn flied to left to complete Detroit's 8-4 win in 1984's clinching Game 5.

Tabbed to pinch run for fellow future manager Bruce Bochy, Roenicke raced halfway to second base before he saw not only the Tigers leaping from their dugout, but fans pouring onto the field to celebrate the city's first World Series title since 1968.

"I remember on the pop-up taking off running and then just seeing this mass of people coming on the field, and all I could think about was just get off the field and get in the dugout and try to be safe," Roenicke said earlier this offseason. "You're used to everything being in control on a baseball field and when the stands empty and it's chaos, it's a weird feeling like, 'What's going on?'"

Roenicke was lucky to be on the field at all. He opened the 1984 season without a team after being cut by the Mariners in spring training. He signed with the Padres on April 5 and spent most of the season at Triple A. Summoned on Sept. 1, he hit .300 in 12 games and figured his season was over, watching the Padres shock the Cubs in the NLCS, aided largely by Garvey's walk-off homer in Game 4.

Outfielder Kevin McReynolds injured his wrist during that series, however, opening a World Series roster spot. It went to Roenicke, a 28-year-old who had found himself in the opposite position just three years earlier, when an ankle sprain with a week to go cost him his job as the Dodgers' starting center fielder and sidelined him for the entire championship run.

"I jumped for the first base bag and blew up an ankle," Roenicke recalled. "I was still kind of involved in that one on the sidelines in the locker room and watching what was going on, but I wasn't on the field. Playing in '84, it meant something. You want to feel like you're involved and you're a piece of something."

Broadcaster Vin Scully recognized what that small moment meant for Roenicke, noting the juxtaposition with '81 and telling viewers, "So you see, fate has a way of evening up, I guess."

By the time Roenicke entered with one out, the Padres trailed 8-4 against a 104-win Tigers club that might've been the team of the decade. The unheralded Padres had already shocked the Cubs after losing the first two games of the NLCS, though, and never counted themselves out.

"We had a good team," Roenicke said. "I don't think anybody expected us to get through the Cubs. Sometimes when you're on a team that may not feel like the best team, but you win, it seems like you always think that something's going to happen, something good is going to happen."

Not this time. Alan Wiggins fouled to catcher Lance Parrish against MVP and Cy Young Award winner Willie Hernandez before Gwynn lined softly to left, opening the floodgates and leaving players on both sides fearing for their safety. Even Kirk Gibson, basically Mr. Tiger, had to throw fans off of him to reach the dugout.

"They won, so at least everyone's coming on the field happy," Roenicke said. "Then it got crazy on the bus. It was a mess. We showered up and we were waiting for escorts to the airport and they were having trouble.

There's a police car on fire, there's a cab that pulls up and the people are grabbing it and they end up taking the driver out and flipping the cab car over. It was pretty dangerous. And then the mounted police came in and just cleared the streets. And then our escort got to us and we got out of there.

Roenicke wouldn't reach a World Series again as a player, retiring in 1988 after an itinerant eight-year career. He added a ring as Angels third base coach in 2002, and another two years ago with the Red Sox as Alex Cora's bench coach.

In both cases, he joined the celebration on the field, which he much preferred to his experience in 1984.

Red Sox hold touching Memorial Day tribute at Fenway Park

Red Sox hold touching Memorial Day tribute at Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox on Monday paid tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America.

At a nearly-empty Fenway Park, the Red Sox honored Memorial Day by dropping the American flag over the Green Monster. Robert Bean, a Medford, Mass., native and retired member of the United States Marine Corps and National Guard, performed “Taps” to top off the moving tribute.

See more from the ceremony below:


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Boston was supposed to host the Kansas City Royals for a Memorial Day matchup. Unfortunately, we were unable to be treated to baseball on the holiday, but credit to the Red Sox for going on with their tribute to our fallen heroes.