Duke Welker had Tommy John surgery


Pittsburgh just announced that hard-throwing minor leaguer Duke Welker underwent Tommy John elbow surgery, knocking the 28-year-old right-hander out for the remainder of this season and likely much of next year.

Welker was traded from the Pirates to the Twins for Justin Morneau in August, but then before he ever appeared in a game for Minnesota’s organization he was later traded back to Pittsburgh for minor leaguer Kris Johnson.

There was really no firm explanation given for the odd pair of moves at the time, although considering Welker made nine appearances at Triple-A this season before being shut down presumably a pre-existing injury wasn’t to blame.

Welker made his MLB debut with the Pirates last season and has a 3.32 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 106 innings at Triple-A.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

Bob Levey/Getty Images

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.