Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa undergoes hand surgery

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Depending on what moves the Nationals make this offseason Danny Espinosa could be the favorite to start at second base on Opening Day, but he’ll be out of commission for at least the next six weeks after undergoing surgery today to remove the hook of the hamate bone from his right hand.

Espinosa had been playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, where he hit .345 in 87 at-bats after making his big-league debut in September with a .214/.277/.447 line in 28 games.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Espinosa is expected to be fully healthy in time for spring training, but notes that his future double-play partner, Ian Desmond, “suffered significant complications from a similar procedure during his time in the minors, but only because a doctor botched the initial operation.”

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.