GLENDALE, Ariz. – Chris Sale’s very slim and none chances of starting Opening Day were downgraded to none Wednesday when executive vice president Ken Williams told MLB Network that it wasn’t happening.
“We’re going to take him on a little slower road, but it looks like he could make the April 12 start,’’ Williams said. “Now whether we’re going to want him to make that start would be dependent on just how well he comes along.’’
Sale, who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last season, sustained an avulsion fracture in his right foot after he jumped off the back of his truck at his home on Feb. 27 and was ruled out for three weeks. It seemed highly unlikely then that he would have enough time to get his arm ready for the Opener, so this comes as no surprise, although manger Robin Ventura has kept a tiny window open saying Sale’s availability was highly unlikely. Rushing their prized left-hander into service in April — or anybody for that matter — is the last thing management would risk.
Jeff Samardzija or Jose Quintana will start the opener. With an off day the day after the Opener, the Sox will need four starters over the first five games.
Ramirez likes what he sees in Johnson
Veteran shortstop Alexei Ramirez on Micah Johnson, who is trying win the starting job at second base: “I’ve been watching him and I think he’s good. But he has to prove it.”
Johnson, who is close to completing his degree from Indiana, learned Spanish at an early age. That has helped him and Ramirez working together around the bag.
“We already have a good connection because he speaks Spanish,’’ Ramirez said. “It’s easier for me to communicate with him.’’
Ramirez’s advice for Johnson and Carlos Sanchez, who is also competing, is to keep it fun, don’t put unnecessary pressure on themselves and let their abilities play out.
“The most important thing when you’re starting out in the big leagues is to learn from the people who have been through it who give you advice,’’ Ramirez said.
Emilio Bonifacio came up as a second baseman and suggested it might be his favorite position, but he knows he’s getting paid to be available at second, shortstop and third base as well as the outfield. Bonificio started in center field Wednesay and hasn’t played in the infield in a game. But he’s taking ground balls.
“I don’t want to feel really comfortable in one place right now,’’ he said. “I want to keep sharp everywhere because I don’t know each day where I’m going to be playing. When I have a day off I try to get work everywhere, third, shortstop and second.
“I have to be ready to play where Robin needs me.’’
Bonifacio, 29, was signed during the offseason to be a super-utility type player for the Sox.
“It’s a little tough but it’s part of my game. I do the best I can,’’ said. “When I was traded from the Nationals to the Marlins, they asked me if I could play third and of course I said yes. Somebody else got hurt and they asked me to play somewhere else. I’m a team guy and I wanted to be in the lineup and be there for the team.’’
Shaky start for Rodon
After striking out four batters in two innings against the Padres in his Cactus League debut, No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon struggled against the Rangers Wednesday at Camelback Ranch, allowing three runs on five hits over 2 1/3 innings. All three runs came in the first on four hits and a wild pitch. Rodon, not sharp with his command, gave up hits to lefties Leonys Martin and Prince Fielder in the first. Rodon walked one and struck out one.
Here’s video of Fielder connecting for an RBI single: