Bobby Parnell cleared for baseball activities

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Mets closer Bobby Parnell didn’t throw a pitch after July 30 last season due to a herniated disk which required surgery, but he appears on track to be ready for the start of 2014.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Parnell has been fully cleared for baseball activities and plans to report to the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie next week to get started. While the 29-year-old lost around 30 pounds in the days following surgery, Rubin hears from one person who recently saw Parnell that “he looked terrific — toned, strong, limber.” That person probably wants to remain anonymous just to freak Parnell out a bit.

Parnell had some hiccups in his previous chances as a closer, but he thrived prior to the injury last year, posting a 2.16 ERA and 44/12 K/BB ratio over 50 innings while going 22-for-26 in save chances. He should be a lock for the job if healthy.

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.