With Chris Sale making his much-anticipated first start for the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, we decided to do something different and dedicate an entire Inbox to one player. Here is a Sale-centric Inbox.
Is Sale susceptible to the first-year pitfalls that free-agent additions (especially pitchers) seem to encounter in Boston?
It's a fair question. However, I feel that Sale is better equipped to handle the challenge of pitching in Boston than any prized new pitching acquisition the team has had since Curt Schilling. Sale has the same intensity and competitive fire that Schilling had. And he has the added motivation of trying to play postseason baseball for the first time.
This will be the first time in Sale's career he has pitched in front of a packed house for basically every home start. And the Red Sox draw a ton of fans on the road, too. I think that adrenaline might help him reach even a higher level than he's already reached.
What would classify as a "successful" first season for Sale?
I would say 15-20 wins, 210 innings or more, an ERA of 3.30 or lower, 9-10 strikeouts per nine innings and 215 strikeouts or so would be good enough to satisfy everyone. Also, the Red Sox need to win at least one postseason series, because that would signify progress over last year, when they didn't have Sale.
What are your predictions for the number of games he starts and the team's win-loss record in those games?
Looking into my crystal ball, I have Sale making 34 starts this season, with the Red Sox going 25-9 in those games. You didn't ask, but I'll project a 20-6 record for Sale.
How could he not like the movie "Airplane"?
I've heard from various sources that a certain White Sox beat reporter from MLB.com was lacking in giving the staff ace solid pop culture recommendations. That said, I thought "Airplane" was hilarious. But could you have given him a better option or two, or was that the best you could come up with?
How do you think Sale will fare against the American League East bats? I know he has a good track record against the Yankees
In his career against the AL East, Sale is 16-10 with a 2.54 ERA over 226 1/3 innings. He has held AL East opponents to a .205 batting average. While that type of success has to make you excited, here is the rub: AL East teams are going to see Sale a lot more now, so they'll be able to get more familiar with him and probably have a little more success against him.
How many questions did you get expressing concerns about Throwback Jersey Nights at Fenway? I set the line at seven.
You are right on the money. There were several inquiries about this. To Sale's credit, he disarmed the media when asked about that subject back in Spring Training by saying, "I don't think the Red Sox have throwback jerseys." Sale realizes he made a big mistake in the way he handled that situation last July, and I think he learned from it.
Who has Sale become best bros with since joining the Red Sox? Who has helped him to adjust a new clubhouse?
According to well-placed sources within the clubhouse, the role of Sale's Red Sox BFF is still up for grabs. That said, Sale has already formed strong relationships with David Price, Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly, but he has also formed a good bond with position players like Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts. It seems like he has adapted seamlessly to the group.
What is Sale's favorite thing in Boston?
I'll take a wild guess and say it's not the media. All kidding aside, Sale just arrived a couple of days ago, so I think it will take him some time to find favorite spots and all that. I'm guessing that the passion for the Red Sox will be near the top of his list of favorite things about the city by midseason, if not sooner.
Whose bright idea was it to have a day off between Opening Day and Sale's first start?
This way you get a whole day in between to rest up for it! Also, by the pouring rain I'm seeing out my window right now, you should be thrilled that Sale is pitching Wednesday instead of Tuesday. The forecast calls for cool temperatures, but no rain. I'm sure it will be a lot nicer than many of the early-season games Sale pitched in Chicago.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.