FORT MYERS, Fla. — This was not what the Boston Red Sox wanted to see in Chris Sale’s final spring training tuneup: Their ace crumpled on the ground, knocked off the mound in the first inning by a line drive off the bat of Houston’s J.D. Davis.

Sale quickly got up, flexed his leg a few times and walked off the field under his own power Saturday. The AL East champions called it a bruised left hip, and Sale said the injury wasn’t serious and wouldn’t jeopardize his Opening Day start Thursday at Tampa Bay.

“I don’t see anything lingering from this,” Sale said. “Looked a lot worse than it really is.”

X-rays were negative.

“When it first hit me, it kind of got me in the hip, but got the nerve. So it shot all the way down to my foot. So, that’s what kind of made me worried,” he said. “I was telling them when I was out there, ‘Give me a minute. It’ll come back. I’ll be fine.’ They didn’t want to wait, so (I) came in here, got it evaluated, looked at, figured out nothing serious, just a bruise.”

“It kind of just shocked me more than anything, that initial blow,” he said.


The lanky left-hander considered himself fortunate.

“That’s another reason we’re thankful it hit me where it did,” Sale said. “I don’t have a whole lot of padding anywhere on me, but if I’m going to get hit, somewhere in the hip or the butt’s going to be the place to go. Better than a rib, arm, hand, even the face. So this was best-case scenario.”

The Red Sox have been bringing Sale along slowly this spring, not because of an injury but because they are hoping to keep him stronger as the season goes on.

Sale led the majors with 308 strikeouts last season, going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA in his first year with Boston. He started for the AL in the All-Star Game.

But the six-time All-Star, who turns 29 a day after the opener, struggled late in the season. In 11 starts in August and September, he went 7-4 with a 4.09 ERA, averaging six innings.

Over his eight-season career, he is 59-22 with a 2.74 ERA before the All-Star break, and 32-36 with a 3.28 ERA after.


Sale went 0-2 in the AL division series against Houston, giving up nine runs in 9 2/3 innings. He started Game 1 and made a relief appearance in Game 4.

Sale was planning to go six innings Saturday, with 80 to 90 pitches.

“We’re going to figure something out over tomorrow and the next day,” he said. “Try to build up arm strength to get to where we need to be for Thursday.”

The Red Sox already were looking at starting the season with a depleted rotation. Manager Alex Cora announced earlier Saturday that pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez will begin the season on the disabled list, and Steven Wright has accepted a 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

The Red Sox traded infielder Deven Marrero to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named or cash.

The 27-year-old Marrero, a first-round draft pick in 2012, hit .211 with four homers and 27 RBI for Boston last season. He played in 22 spring training games this year and batted .245.


Marrero was contending for a spot on Boston’s roster as a utility player, along with Brock Holt and Blake Swihart. The trade might allow the Red Sox to keep both Holt and Swihart on the roster.

Catcher Christian Vazquez reached agreement on a new contract that takes him through the 2021 season, with a team option for 2022.

The Boston Herald reported that Vazquez will make $2.85 million in 2019, $4.2 million in 2020 and $6.25 million in 2021.

The Red Sox have long regarded the 27-year-old Vazquez, a ninth-round draft pick in 2008, as their catcher of the future.

Vazquez hit .290 with five home runs and 32 RBI last season, starting 85 times at catcher. He has thrown out 42 percent (42 of 100) of would-be basestealers in 211 career games – the best rate among catchers with at least 200 games in the last 30 years.

GIANTS: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season after undergoing surgery to have three pins inserted into the broken pinkie on his pitching hand.


The 28-year-old ace was injured Friday when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield.

CARDINALS: Closer Luke Gregerson will begin the season on the disabled list because of a hamstring strain.

MARLINS: Pitcher Dan Straily will begin the season on the disabled list because of forearm inflammation.

Straily was scheduled to start the second game of the season, but the right-hander exited his last spring training appearance on Monday after throwing 60 pitches.

YANKEES: Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will start the regular season on the disabled list because of an oblique injury.

METS: Pitcher Zack Wheeler will begin the season in the minors after squandering an opportunity to secure a rotation spot during spring training.

BREWERS: Milwaukee optioned Junior Guerra, its Opening Day starter a year ago, to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.