Josh Beckett cleared to make rehab start Sunday at Triple-A

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Josh Beckett threw a 65-pitch simulated game this afternoon at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay against hitters from the Red Sox’s rookie-ball team, clearing the way for him to begin a rehab assignment Sunday at Triple-A.
Beckett is expected to throw around 70 pitches for Pawtucket and will likely be asked to make at least one more rehab start before potentially coming off the disabled list. He hasn’t pitched since being shut down with back problems following consecutive ugly outings versus the Yankees in mid-May left him with a 7.29 ERA in 45.2 innings.
Barring a setback he may be able to rejoin the rotation shortly after the All-Star break.

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.