Update: The early word is that Beltre has only a bruise on the back of his head. No concussion. He said after the game that he didn’t believe Padilla was throwing at him.
Vicente Padilla is known to be a head-hunter, but this one truly appeared to be an accident.
With two outs in the eighth inning tonight, Padilla drilled Adrian Beltre in the back of the helmet with a 92-mph fastball, sending Beltre to the ground in a heap. Beltre got up after a minute and wanted to stay in the game, but the Rangers made the smart decision to send in a pinch-runner.
Padilla was working in a tie game and had an 0-2 count on Beltre when the fastball appeared to get away from him. Had it been anyone else, there would have been no doubt it was an accident. Padilla doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt based on his history, but it still seems unlikely any malice was intended.
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.