Kyuji Fujikawa is back from the disabled list after missing the past four weeks with a strained forearm.
The injury cost him a chance to take over for Carlos Marmol as the Cubs’ closer, so he’ll slide back into a setup role in front of new closer Kevin Gregg. Chicago’s ninth-inning situation figures to remain pretty volatile all season though, so don’t count Fujikawa out of the mix for saves at some point.
He got off to a slow start, allowing six runs in five appearances, but apparently he was trying to pitch through the injury since spring training.
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.