Ricky Nolasco runs afoul of the new finger licking rule

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Ricky Nolasco 2.jpgThere’s a new rule in place this year that, for the first time, allows pitchers to lick their fingers while on the mound as long as (a) they’re not on the rubber when you do it; and (b) they wipe their hand on their shirt or their pants or something before they grab the ball. Previously guys had to step completely off the mound to do it, which led to a lot of leisurely strolls the powers that be don’t like to see anymore due to pace-of-the game issues.

The Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco thought he was taking advantage of it last night when he went to his mouth, except he was on the rubber when he did it and was thus immediately charged with a ball. The night before Fernando Nieve had a ball charged to him too, not because he was on the rubber — he was on the grass — but because he didn’t wipe his hand off first.

I guess I understand the new rule and I also understand why it might take those creatures of habit we call pitchers a while to get used to it. What I don’t understand is what licking your fingers does for you if you just have to wipe them off a second later.

Bob Tufts: you out there? What’s the story?

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.