Chris Sale likely to be activated this week

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White Sox ace Chris Sale struck out 11 batters over four scoreless innings in a rehab start Friday night at Triple-A Charlotte and then threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon. If he wakes up Wednesday with no abnormal soreness, the lefty could be activated from the disabled list during this weekend’s four-game series against the Yankees.

“He threw free and easy enough to be able to be one of those (starters in that four-game set),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura told Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago on Tuesday. “How early, it’s too early to say. Seeing how he feels going through tonight and tomorrow, and we’ll make a decision based on that.”

Sale has been on the disabled list since April 18 with a flexor muscle strain in his pitching elbow.

The 25-year-old had a 2.30 ERA in four starts before suffering the elbow injury and boasts an outstanding 2.93 ERA (146 ERA+) with 558 strikeouts through his first 528 innings at the major league level.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.