BOSTON -- Perhaps no member of the Red Sox benefited more from the team wrapping up the American League Championship Series in five games than ace Chris Sale, who spent a night in a hospital with a stomach ailment.
As for the specifics of his medical issue, Sale clearly didn't want to get into it, deflecting that line of questioning with a joke.
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"I had irritation from a belly button ring, just constantly taking it in and out, causing irritation and got a rash down there," quipped Sale.
All kidding aside, Sale said, "Doctors and nurses over at [Massachusetts General Hospital] were awesome. Things happen, you handle them and keep moving forward."
For the first time since his hospital stay, Sale got back on the mound on Saturday and threw a bullpen session in preparation for his expected start in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
"Yeah, I've been able to run around, get some workouts in, threw a bullpen today," said Sale. "We're back on track and back to normal."
Just as in the final two months of the regular season, when Sale pitched just 17 innings due to left shoulder inflammation, the Red Sox were able to prevail without him in the ALCS. Sale's only performance was his disappointing start in Game 1 -- Boston's only loss of the series. He went to the hospital later that night.
"Yeah, I'll get a couple more throwing days in," said Sale. "I didn't have any part to do with it, our team played great. Gives everyone around here a couple extra days. These guys are grinding hard. We get to go through a few workouts, get our feet under us and get ready to go."
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Given Sale's competitive nature, his lack of involvement in the Red Sox's ALCS conquest will give him even more desire to make a big impact in what will be the first World Series of his career.
"We can't wait," said Sale. "This is what we worked hard for all year, to play in the World Series. You show up to Spring Training, that's the goal. That's what we talked about all year. From Day 1, everyone in here, [manager Alex Cora], the coaching staff, has talked about getting to the World Series. We're all excited. You can talk to everybody in here, we've all grinded, worked hard, we're here and have an opportunity to win the last game of the year, and that's as good as it gets."
Wright in play
Knuckleballer Steven Wright is in the discussions for the World Series roster, Cora confirmed on Saturday.
Wright was on the AL Division Series roster, but he had to be removed the morning after Game 1 due to recurring inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.
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Though Wright is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery once the season ends, he recently threw a bullpen session in hopes of being a participant in the Fall Classic.
"He has to go through a few things," said Cora. "I heard he feels good about it. He threw a bullpen the other day, but tomorrow probably -- we'll talk to him first and see where he's at. And if he feels he can contribute, then he has to go through a few tests."
What would those tests be?
"[Pitchers' fielding practice], simulated game, backing up bases and see how he reacts," Cora said. "We haven't talked to him yet. We'll do that today and see if he feels he can contribute, and then we'll do something tomorrow with that and make a decision. But like I said, we haven't discussed that with him."
Given that Boston's bullpen was on fumes by the end of the ALCS, Wright would be a welcome addition. In September, he allowed one earned run in 13 2/3 innings.
Gagne assists Kimbrel
While reliever Eric Gagne had a disappointing stint with the Red Sox as a trade acquisition for their eventual 2007 World Series championship team, he made an assist to this year's team with a simple text to Cora and then closer Craig Kimbrel.
Gagne noticed that Kimbrel was tipping his slider, allowing the Yankees and Astros to lay off of it in the playoffs. Cora and Gagne were teammates with the Dodgers and Red Sox, and the manager put the former All-Star closer in touch with Kimbrel.
The fix was made in time for Game 5, when Kimbrel looked like his elite self again, striking out two of the four batters he faced.
"I've got a lot of friends around the league, the network is a big one, people are always paying attention, they always text or call and then we run it through the coaching staff, they look at it," said Cora. "Sometimes you get so focused on mechanics that you forget about simple stuff, including me."