Grant Balfour says he’s totally healthy, is mystified by the Orioles backing out


Earlier today the Orioles backed out of two-year, $15 million deal with closer Grant Balfour, citing concerns about Balfour’s shoulder. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with Balfour today, and he says he’s 100%:

Balfour stopped short of criticizing the Orioles, saying that they must’ve just chosen to go in a different direction. Of course that’s just diplomacy in action. Balfour is likely pretty angry because any other team that signs him now is going to offer way less money in light of the Orioles’ misgivings. He’s now been thrust into make-good land.

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.