FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Sale won’t be the Opening Day starter, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Sunday morning prior to the team’s tie with the Yankees.
“You can write that one down. He’s not,” Cora said. “I want him to enjoy [Opening Day] as a regular baseball player. Just the whole Opening Day thing. Wherever he pitches in the rotation is where he’ll pitch in the rotation.”
Cora came to that decision roughly a month and a half ago, he said. Cora had a conversation with Sale about his decision and said the lefthander took it well. Corey Kluber is in the running to be the Opening Day starter, the announcement of which should come in the next few days.
Sale has made two Opening Day starts for the Red Sox and five for his career.
He has performed well in his first two spring outings, going five scoreless innings while striking out seven.
Turner counting his blessings
Justin Turner hit off a tee on Sunday, a good sign after he was hit in the face by an errant pitch from Detroit’s Matt Manning on March 6. Turner said he was left disoriented in the immediate aftermath.
“I didn’t know what was really going on,” Turner said. “Everything was pretty numb. In the moment, I knew I was bleeding. Had no idea where I was bleeding from. I couldn’t feel my teeth, really. I didn’t know if they were all there.”
Turner was taken to a local hospital where he began to settle down, he said, once he received fluids through IV.
This wasn’t a new experience for Turner, who was hit in the face during the 2003 College World Series while playing for Cal State Fullerton. Similarly to now, Turner suffered no broken bones. Just a laceration.
“‘I don’t know why I’ve been so lucky, but I know I’ve been very lucky and thankful that it was as minor as it was,” he said.
The Sox are confident Turner will have enough time to ramp up for Opening Day, although when he will next see game action is still to be determined.
“I have to ramp up some running,” Turner said. “I’m just trusting the trainers and the staff in there. They’ve done a fantastic job from the moment I got hit in the face up until now. They have a plan in place.”
Glimpse into the future
Anthony Volpe , the Yankees’ top prospect, made the trip from Tampa and continues to turn heads this spring. The shortstop went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
Across the field, Boston’s answer to Volpe, Marcelo Mayer , saw his first action in big league camp. Mayer received a call on Saturday night and went 1 for 2 with a leadoff double in the ninth on Sunday.
“It was exciting,” Mayer said. “A little bit of pregame jitters. It’s a little different than the back fields.”
MVP Chang on the way
Infielder Yu Chang will soon report to Fenway South after Chinese Taipei was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic late Saturday night with a 7-1 loss to pool-winner Cuba. Chang was named MVP of Pool A. He was 7 of 16 with two doubles, two homers, and eight RBIs. The 27-year-old was signed by the Sox in February . . . Former Lexington High and Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick was 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs as Italy beat the Netherlands, 7-1, to advance with Cuba. Frelick is 7 of 18 with three extra-base hits in four games . . . Richard Bleier was the winning pitcher with a scoreless eighth inning as Israel rallied to beat Nicaragua, 3-1, in Miami in a Pool D game. Later, Kiké Hernández was 1 for 4, scored two runs, and drove in another, but Puerto Rico fell to Venezuela, 9-6 . . . In Tokyo, Masataka Yoshida was 0 for 4 as Japan beat Australia, 7-1, to finish 4-0 and atop Pool B.
Finally, Whitlock’s time
Pitcher Garrett Whitlock will make his spring debut Wednesday against the Rays at JetBlue Park, piggybacking Kluber. Brayan Bello is scheduled to throw a two-inning live batting practice this week. If Bello comes out of that without incident, the Sox will then work him into the spring rotation . . . The Sox made two more roster cuts, optioning righthander Bryan Mata to Triple A and reassigning lefty Ryan Sherriff to minor league camp.