Here’s some positive health news out of Boston.
According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, right-hander Andrew Bailey was given clearance by a specialist on Wednesday to begin a rehabilitative throwing program next week.
Bailey has been sidelined since the final week of spring training with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. That injury eventually required surgery, which came with a recovery timetable of 3-4 months.
If all goes well, Bailey should be ready to join the back end of the Boston ‘pen before the All-Star break.
The 27-year-old closer owns a sparkling 2.07 career ERA and 0.95 career WHIP in 174 big-league innings.
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.