FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Sale stayed home on Wednesday when the Red Sox conducted their first workout for pitchers and catchers. The lefthander is dealing with a case of the flu that morphed into walking pneumonia.
Sale has been sick for about 10 days, interim manger Ron Roenicke said. But he’s feeling better and was able to play catch in his yard on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It sounds probably worse than what it is,” Roenicke said.
Sale is expected back at JetBlue Park on Friday to be evaluated.
“It’s concerning just because he’s worked so hard to get himself to this point. His arm feels great,” Roenicke said. “Like he said, this is the worst time to come up with the flu.”
Last season, the Sox probably would have celebrated the idea of Sale staying home, so determined were they to rest their pitchers coming off the World Series.
But Roenicke said the plan this year is for the starters to make the customary six starts in spring training to be better prepared for the season.
“I think it’s important that we try to get them to six starts and make sure that we start off better than we started off last year,” Roenicke said.
Eduardo Rodriguez appeared in five major league spring training games last season. Rick Porcello had three and the other starters — Sale, Nate Eovaldi, and David Price — only two.
The Sox were 29-28 the first two months of the season as their rotation struggled.
Sale was 6-11 with a 4.40 earned run average in 25 starts. He missed the final six weeks of the season because of a shoulder injury.
Progress with Pillar
USA Today reported that the Sox had a one-year deal with free agent outfielder Kevin Pillar. The contract is still being finalized, but the expectation is that Pillar will be on the team for the first full-squad workout on Monday.
Pillar, a righthanded hitter, would give the Sox some balance in their otherwise lefthanded-hitting outfield. He’s also a strong defender.
Wong checks in
Connor Wong, one of the prospects acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, was hosting a housewarming party in Houston when he learned he was headed for the Red Sox.
“I checked my phone, a few missed calls from the farm director over there and a text from someone saying he’s trying to get a hold of me. I called him back and found out I was traded,” Wong said.
Wong, 23, is a 2017 third-round draft pick who is primarily a catcher but also has played 25 games at second base and 13 at third base in his minor league career.
The Sox have him in camp as a catcher.
“I see myself as a guy who can help the team anywhere. That’s what I plan on doing,” Wong said.
As a catcher, much of his work will be learning new pitchers.
“It’s only difficult in the sense that it takes time,” he said. “We have a month and a half before the season begins. That’s the timeframe I’m working with. I’m going to have to get it done.”
Wong finished last season with Double A Tulsa, and it’s fair to think he’ll open the season at Portland. Wong has 48 home runs and an .852 OPS in three minor league seasons.
Dustin Pedroia, who had a setback with his left knee last month, has a locker in the clubhouse but is unlikely to attend camp according to people familiar with his status . . . Roenicke looks at Brandon Workman being the closer. “I think so,” he said. “I think what he did last year, he deserves that shot to be the closer.” Workman was 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 16 saves. Roenicke said he preferred to start the season with defined roles in the bullpen. But he wants the late-inning relievers to be flexible if matchups dictate the closer would be better used in the eighth inning, or one of the set-up men in the ninth . . . With 65 players on the camp roster, four players have numbers in the 90s. The highest number, 93, belongs to outfielder Cesar Puello . . . Brock Holt remains a free agent, but his old No. 12 went to Alex Verdugo . . . Righthander R.J. Alvarez has wrap on his left ring finger and it stuck out of his glove. He was unable to catch the ball coming back from the catcher; that task fell to minor league coach Chad Epperson . . . The Sox were using new portable Trackman devices to compile data on their pitchers. The team switched over from Rapsodo and Edgertronic equipment.