Club hopes to ex­tend Sale’s suc­cess next year

Boston Herald - - NHL / NBA SCOREBOARD / RACING - By CHAD JEN­NINGS Twit­ter: @chad­jen­nings22

RED SOX NOTEBOOK

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Red Sox are not in the mar­ket for an ace and are not look­ing to trade the one they al­ready have, but the club has dis­cussed tweak­ing the way Chris Sale is used next sea­son.

“We’ve talked about it,” pres­i­dent of baseball op­er­a­tions Dave Dom­browski said dur­ing yes­ter­day’s sec­ond ses­sion of the gen­eral man­agers meet­ings. “We haven’t sat down and talked to Chris about it as of yet. I think it’s some­thing we’re look­ing at from an in­ter­nal per­spec­tive, but re­al­is­ti­cally, it’s a chal­lenge. It’s some­thing we need to do, but it wasn’t some­thing we weren’t cog­nizant of last year.”

Sale led the ma­jors in in­nings pitched in 2017, and that work­load seemed to take its toll as the left-han­der strug­gled through the month of Septem­ber and pitched to an 8.38 ERA in his two play­off ap­pear­ances in the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries against Hous­ton.

That rocky fi­nal month might cost him when the Cy Young Award is an­nounced tonight. Sale led the league in strike­outs but fin­ished sec­ond to the Cleve­land In­di­ans’ Corey Klu­ber in ERA, WHIP and op­po­nents’ bat­ting av­er­age. The Sox ace led Klu­ber in each of those cat­e­gories be­fore the All-Star break.

“We never brought him back on short rest,” Dom­browski said. “Any­time we (had the op­tion to give) him a sixth day, we gave him a sixth day. He threw 215 in­nings, it’s not like he threw 250. I mean, 215 in­nings is a lot, but it’s the fewest ever that’s led Ma­jor League Baseball in a par­tic­u­lar year, the num­ber of in­nings pitched. But I think we still need to ex­plore all those things.”

MLB is adding sched­uled off days next sea­son.

“I think we at least have to be aware that those off days early can pay off for us later on,” Dom­browski said. “So, we talked about that, but we re­ally haven’t got­ten more spe­cific.”

Brentz in line to help

Af­ter two years with Sox, vet­eran out­fielder Chris Young is a free agent, and the team isn’t nec­es­sar­ily in the mar­ket for a re­place­ment as a backup right-handed hit­ter. Dom­browski is lean­ing to­ward Bryce Brentz, who hit 31 home runs at Triple A last sea­son and was added to the 40-man ros­ter ear­lier this month.

“(Brentz) has a leg up,” Dom­browski said. “We’re not re­ally look­ing to go sign some­body at this time. Could some­body later on, if they’re a per­son that can add some ros­ter depth, some­body so good that they fall to you, would you be open to that? Sure. But right now, we like (Brentz).”

Al­though he hit right-han­ders quite well in the mi­nors, Brentz, 28, was es­pe­cially po­tent against Triple-A lefties and had a .957 OPS against them. The 2010 firstround pick has big league ex­pe­ri­ence, but this was a break­out year, and he cur­rently leads the Mex­i­can win­ter league in homers . ...

Brentz isn’t the only Red Sox first-round pick with an op­por­tu­nity play a role in 2018. The team also is look­ing for 2011 firstrounder Blake Swi­hart to com­pete for a util­ity role as a catcher who can also play first base and the out­field cor­ners.

The switch-hit­ter is out of op­tions, so he’ll have to make the team out of spring train­ing or be ex­posed to waivers. He was the reg­u­lar catcher for a while in 2015.

“We like him a great deal,” Dom­browski said. “We think he can hit. So ide­ally, we have to find a spot some­how. ”

Otani a hot topic

There’s still plenty of talk around the meet­ings about Ja­panese stand­out Sho­hei Otani. Though he hasn’t been posted yet, the pitcher/slug­ger is ex­pected to be avail­able, with most teams pre­par­ing some sort of sales pitch.

“The way we’re sit­u­ated, we’re very open to any type of cul­tural back­ground,” Dom­browski said. “We have a lot of in­di­vid­u­als that speak Span­ish. We have a lot of in­di­vid­u­als that speak Ja­panese. We have some­body who speaks Korean. Within our sys­tem, Tai­wanese. So, you try and cre­ate as much flex­i­bil­ity as you can there to try and be open.”

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