Chris Sale will be the first man to toe rubber when the Boston Red Sox begin their World Series title defense.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced Sunday that Sale will start opening day against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, March 28. The decision likely won’t surprise anyone, but given how limited Sale has been during spring training, there was reason to wonder whether Cora would go in a different direction for opening day.

Alas, the left-handed ace will get first dibs in the 2019 season.

Sale made his spring debut Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. And while his velocity was down (likely part of a plan), the 29-year-old looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.

Take a look at the highlights:

Sale went four innings and struck out seven batters while surrendering two hits. His fastball sat in the 91-93 mph range.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images