Quintana on first Opening Day: ‘I can’t wait’

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Jose Quintana pitches during the 2016 All-Star Game. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Jose Quintana has never started on Opening Day, but he seems to fit the part.

With Chris Sale around, though, and Jeff Samardzija, he was more of an afterthought when it came to the honor.

Not any more. Sale is a Red Sox, Quintana has stayed consistently good in his five seasons as a starting pitcher, and so today is his day.

“It’s special for me,” Quintana said. “I’ve never been on the mound for Opening Day. I can’t wait.”

Quintana was set to throw the first pitch of the 2017 season against the Tigers at newly named Guaranteed Rate Field Monday at 3:10, but the game was called off at 4:50 because of rain. Quintana and Verlander will now square off Tuesday at 1:10 p.m.

Many thought Quintana would have followed Sale out the door by now as the Sox begin a rebuilding phase.

But he’s here, at least for now.

“It’s good to be here,” Quintana, 28, said, “Be here for another season. I know there are rumors but I just focus on my job.”

Quintana said he ignored the rumors during the offseason, and while he fielded questions about them during spring training, he wasn’t deluged by them, either.

“I spent time with my family and got some rest. I’m here again,” he said.

Sox manager Rick Renteria said Quintana’s body of work precedes him. He is also one of the most liked and respected teammates in the clubhouse.

“You start to fall in love with him,” Renteria said. “The more you watch him pitch, the more you see him work, it’s really easy to fall in love with the things he’s capable of doing.

“He’s very calm demeanored, very focused, all his preparations and outings are the same executing his task. Opening Day for him, we’re all very happy for him. It seems to fit him right now.”

Quintana pitched during the spring as though he was unfazed by trade rumors. Including his start for Colombia against Team USA and his final Cactus League start against the Reds, he has retired 37 of the last 41 batters he has faced.

Quintana joins the Braves Julio Teherán (2014-16) as the only Colombia-born pitchers tostart on Opening Day. He is the fifth non-American born pitcher to start an opener for the Sox, joining Puerto Ricans Juan Pizzaro (1962) and Jaime Navarro (1997-98), Dominican Melido Perez (1990) and Cuban Jose Contreras (2007).Here is the Sox Opening Day lineup:

Tyler Saladino 2B, Tim Anderson SS, Melky Cabrera LF, Jose Abreu 1B, Todd Frazier 3B, Cody Asche DH, Avisail Garcia RF, Omar Narvaez C, Jacob May CF.

There is a threat of rain, especially near or shortly after game time, although Sox officials are optimistic about getting the game in.


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