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Chris Sale won't be Red Sox' Opening Day starter

BOSTON -- Chris Sale is returning to the mound this season in what he and the Red Sox expect to be full health. That's a big deal.

Sale, though, won't be getting the ball for the first game of the year.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters Sunday that when the Red Sox host the Orioles for Opening Day at Fenway at the end of March, Sale will not be the starting pitcher.

"I want him to enjoy [Opening Day] as a regular baseball player, just the whole Opening Day thing," Cora said regarding Sale, per "And whenever he pitches in the rotation, he'll pitch in the rotation. I decided that like a month and a half ago, when we had that conversation."  

Cora stressed that Sale is healthy and is progressing the way he and the team hoped.

As for potential candidates to get the ball on Opening Day, veteran Corey Kluber figures to be the top choice. Kluber has a 2.35 ERA in three starts this spring, allowing two earned runs over 7.2 innings while striking out eight batters. Sale has not allowed a run in his five innings of work across two starts.

Sale was the Red Sox' Opening Day starter in 2018 and 2019, but he missed the 2020 season and the start of the 2021 season due to injury. Sale also missed the start of the 2022 season due to injury.

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