Jorge De La Rosa aims to return from Tommy John surgery in June

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Rockies’ pitching coach Bob Apodaca said last month that the club hopes to have Jorge De La Rosa back from Tommy John surgery in July, but the rehabbing southpaw is aiming to come back even sooner.

De La Rosa resumed facing live hitters in recent weeks and threw 45 pitches Tuesday in a simulated game. While he still has several minor league rehab starts in front of him, he told Troy Renck of the Denver Post yesterday that he is optimistic about his chances of returning in June.

“Of course I am watching!” De La Rosa said from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., on how he was spending Friday night. “The (simulated game) went well. And (Friday) I threw an aggressive bullpen. I really think I can be back in June.”

De La Rosa posted a 3.51 ERA over 10 starts before going under the knife last June. He is owed $10 million this season while his contract includes an $11 million player option for 2013.

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.