Nick Blackburn exits start with right posterior shoulder stiffness

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The Twins were given quite the scare this afternoon when Nick Blackburn exited his start against the Rangers due to injury. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to be serious.

According to Tyler Mason of FOX Sports Midwest, Blackburn was diagnosed with right posterior shoulder stiffness and is listed as day-to-day. The 30-year-old right-hander allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings this afternoon before the injury. He gave up five runs over six innings in a loss to the Angels in his season debut last week.

Scott Baker is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair a flexor pronator tendon in his elbow, so the Twins can ill afford another injury in their rotation. It’s too soon to tell whether Blackburn will miss his next scheduled start, but Anthony Swarzak could potentially stick around with Jason Marquis on track to join the team for his first start next week.

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.