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Sale has strained elbow, pitching-needy Red Sox sign McHugh

Chris Sale tried to make the best of the latest diagnosis on his left elbow. The Boston Red Sox star won't need Tommy John surgery — for now, anyway. Sale felt discomfort Monday, a day after throwing his first batting practice of spring training. He had an MRI that was reviewed by team physicians and Drs. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache, showing a flexor strain near his elbow.

"That's what we're hoping for," Sale said. “There's optimism to be had, and I'm thankful for that. But I know the situation we're in right now and it's not fun. ... This is about as tough situation as I've ever been in. ”

Sale is 109-73 in 10 major league seasons is entering the second season of a $160 million, six-year contract. After helping the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series, he went 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts last year.

“Over the last year and up to this point, I've done nothing but fall flat on my face,” Sale said. “So it's a gut punch. It's a tough realization, but I've said it time and time again, I have no time to hang my head or sit in a corner and pout. I've got work to do and I've got an uphill battle to climb, but I got my climbing shoes on.”

Sale's 2019 season was cut short after he gave up five runs over 6 2/3 innings in a win at Cleveland on Aug. 13. Sale already had been slated to start the season on the injured list after reporting to camp with pneumonia, setting him behind schedule.

“Tommy John's been a factor in my life for 20 years now," Sale said. “So, obviously, with these things happening it's on the table, but it's always been on the table. So, that's not something I'm going to worry myself with. I can't go out there with that in the back of my mind."

In the meantime, the Red Sox reached agreement with pitcher Collin McHugh on a $600,000, one-year contract. McHugh, however, he is recovering from a flexor injury in his right arm and is not expected to be ready for opening day. He has not yet started a throwing program.

"They're evaluating him still now," manager Ron Roenicke said. “So, we don't know when that period will be when he starts up." Eduardo Rodríguez, Nathan Eovaldi and Martín Pérez head Boston's rotation. McHugh also could pitch in relief.

"He's willing to do both," Roenicke said. “So, we'll get him ramped up, extend him out and then see where he fits in our staff.” McHugh was 3-4 with a 6.37 ERA in eight starts last year with Houston, then got sent to the bullpen. He went 1-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 27 relief appearances with 40 strikeouts and 16 walks in 33 2/3 innings. That left him 4-5 with a 4.70 ERA for his season, which ended when he was placed on the injured list Aug. 31 due to right elbow soreness.

Elsewhere around the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues: TIGERS 15, YANKEES 11 New York ace Gerrit Cole gave up homers on consecutive pitches to Detroit's Travis Demeritte and Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, then did it again in the second. Cole did not surrender back-to-back home runs last season, and the last player to homer twice in the same game against him was Lucas Duda in 2017.

Kyle Higashioka homered twice for New York. ASTROS 5, RED SOX 0 Josh James allowed one hit in three innings, and Bryan Abreu fanned four in two innings. Kyle Tucker, the fifth player drafted in 2015, doubled and homered. Kyle Hart gave up two runs, three hits and two walks in three innings.

PHILLIES 5, BLUE JAYS 3 Bryce Harper hit his third home run in two days Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler gave up two runs, three hits and two walks over 2 1/3 innings. Roman Quinn, looking to grab the center field job with Adam Haseley sidelined, homered.

Tanner Roark made his debut after missing time with the flu, giving up one run, two hits and two walks in two innings. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his second home run. CARDINALS 7, METS 7 Paul DeJong hit his fourth home run, Matt Carpenter hit his first and Kolten Wong had three hits for St. Louis. Adam Wainwright gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings.

New York starter Rick Porcello struck out four in three shutout innings, giving up two hits. Johneshwy Fargas completed a cycle with an eighth-inning home run off John Brebbia. The 25-year-old Fargas has not played above the Double-A level.

RAYS 2, PIRATES 1 Ryan Yarbrough retired nine straight in three innings and reliever Jalen Beeks got six outs in a row for Tampa Bay. Austin Meadows homered for one of the Rays' two hits. Derek Holland allowed one hit — Austin Meadows' homer — in four innings.

TWINS 3, ORIOLES 3 Baltimore's Chris Davis raised his spring batting average to .500 with an RBI single. Jose Rondón had two hits. Nelson Cruz had three hits, including his third home run. Homer Bailey pitched three innings for Minnesota, allowing four hits and an earned run.

ATHLETICS 5, DODGERS 1 Mike Fiers allowed just one hit and struck out four over four innings for Oakland. Matt Chapman hit his second home run of the spring. NL MVP Cody Bellinger hit his first home run of the spring. Walker Buehler worked into the third inning, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks.

WHITE SOX 7 ROCKIES (SS) 6 Nomar Mazara hit his first home run since joining the White Sox. Danny Mendick had three hits. Ian Desmond, David Dahl, Drew Butera and Sam Hilliard homered for Colorado. ROCKIES (SS) 9, ROYALS 1

Nolan Arenado hit his third homer and Chi Chi Gonzalez allowed three hits and struck out three over three scoreless innings for Colorado. Brad Keller, Kansas City's opening day starter a year ago, gave up eight runs on seven hits and a walk. He was lifted with two outs in the second inning.

PADRES 3, MARINERS 0 Dinelson Lamet allowed a hit and struck out five over three innings in the start for San Diego. Greg Garcia homered. Manny Machado was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his spring batting average to .071.

Yusei Kikuchi struck out five, did not allow a hit and issued two walks over three innings. RANGERS (SS) 5, CUBS 0 Yu Darvish, the scheduled Cubs starter, was scratched due to a cough. The team said later in the day that Darvish was feeling better and could work three innings as soon as Friday, possibly in a simulated game.

Jonathan Hernández gave up two hits and a walk while striking out four over his three-inning start for Texas. BREWERS 6, REDS 4 Freddy Peralta walked three and allowed three runs on two hits over 2 2/3 innings. Jesus Castillo worked two perfect innings of relief for Milwaukee.

Luis Castillo struck out five over three innings fore Cincinnati. Kyle Farmer homered and Mike Moustakas doubled. INDIANS 7, GIANTS 1 Zach Plesac gave up a home run and struck out four over four innings. Oscar Mercado homered for the Indians, but later exited with a sprained left wrist.

San Francisco's Drew Smyly struck out one batter and gave up a hit and two walks before being lifted in the first inning. The Giants are limiting the pitches per inning for their staff early in spring training. Brandon Belt hit a solo homer.

DIAMONDBACKS 11, RANGERS (SS) 9 Robbie Ray gave up a run on three hits while striking out three over four innings. Kevin Cron, Josh Rojas and Wyatt Mathisen homered for Arizona. Mike Minor pitched three no-hit innings for Texas. Edinson Volquez managed to get two outs while giving up four runs on three hits and two walks. Adolis Garcia and Joey Gallo each homered.

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