Jose Bautista is finally on the verge of returning from his wrist injury following several setbacks, as John Lott of the National Post reports that the Blue Jays slugger is ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.
Bautista took batting practice Saturday and Sunday, saying afterward that his wrist is “100 percent” healthy. He’ll play a few games in the minors and potentially come off the disabled list Friday, explaining: “If I feel good, I’ll request to come back as soon as possible.”
He’s been out since July 16, as the injury derailed a hot streak that saw Bautista hit .279 with 22 homers, 50 RBIs, and a 1.021 OPS over a 58-game stretch after carrying a .177 batting average into mid-May.
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.