October 21, 2018 / 12:55 AM / a month ago

MLB notebook: Sale blames belly ring for illness

If you believe Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale, he already has a ring. A bellybutton ring.

Oct 18, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) celebrates in the clubhouse after the Red Sox win game five of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sale raised eyebrows and prompted more than a few skeptics Saturday when he blamed his recent stomach illness on a rash caused by his bellybutton ring. The eccentric southpaw has a history of teasing reporters, and the veracity of his latest explanation remained up for debate.

The Red Sox will turn to Sale in Game 1 of the World Series. Sale missed his last scheduled start in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

“I had irritation from a bellybutton ring, just constantly taking it in and out, causing irritation and got a rash down there,” Sale said in comments published by the Boston Herald.

The 29-year-old went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 27 starts during the regular season. He struck out 237 batters in 158 innings. Sale threw a bullpen session Saturday to get ready for the World Series opener on Tuesday night in Boston.

— Red Sox manager Alex Cora didn’t rule out the possibility that right fielder Mookie Betts could play second base during road games in the World Series next week.

Putting Betts, who played second base for six innings in an Aug. 3 game, at that spot would clear a place in the field for designated hitter J.D. Martinez when the Red Sox visit the National League champions — either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Milwaukee Brewers — in Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).

Otherwise, Martinez would bump center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — with Betts shifting to center — or perhaps left fielder Andrew Benintendi from the lineup. Having Betts play second would take Ian Kinsler or Brock Holt, who have shared the duties, out of the lineup.

—Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve had surgery on his right knee Friday, a day after his season ended with the American League Championship Series loss to the Boston Red Sox, MLB.com reported. The team has not confirmed the surgery.

Altuve injured his knee in a game in Colorado in July and battled the injury the rest of the season. He was placed on the disabled list in late July for the first time in his career.

The six-time All-Star and 2017 American League Most Valuable Player is expected to be ready for spring training.

—The Miami Marlins reportedly are about to add a pair of highly touted Cuban prospects who also happen to be brothers.

Victor Victor Mesa and sibling Victor Mesa Jr. will join the Marlins’ organization on Monday when their signings are scheduled to be announced, according to multiple published reports. Both are outfielders.

El Nuevo Herald reported that Victor Victor Mesa, 22, will receive a signing bonus north of $4 million, and Victor Mesa Jr., 17, will net close to $1 million.

—Field Level Media

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