Link-O-Rama: Saito getting expensive for Red Sox

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* Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Takashi Saito’s next appearance out of the Red Sox’s bullpen will earn him a $500,000 bonus, and then after that he gets another $500,000 for every five outings. So far Saito’s incentive-laden contract has paid him $5 million for 48.2 innings of a 2.59 ERA and 46/21 K/BB ratio.
Boston holds a 2010 team option on Saito that is based on his final 2009 salary, which makes any bonus money he earns this month particularly important. Right now my guess is that the 40-year-old won’t be back with the Red Sox next season, but he’s certainly pitched well.
* Venezuela defeated the United States in the World Cup opener last night, as Marlins minor leaguer Nate Field served up a grand slam in the 11th inning. Team USA will now have to beat both Germany and China to advance to the second round.
* Boxing promoter Bob Arum and Yankees officials talked yesterday about possibly holding marquee fights at the new Yankee Stadium. Jesse Sanchez of notes that Arum was the promoter behind the Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton fight at the old Yankee Stadium in 1976.
* Not only has reliever Craig Breslow posted a 3.00 ERA and 37/16 K/BB ratio in 45 innings for the A’s since the Twins misguidedly put him on waivers, he might be the smartest player in baseball.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.