The Boston Red Sox haven’t even embarked on their offseason and already the goal is set: Chris Sale for 2024 Opening Day.

Before taking the mound for his final start of 2023 in Baltimore, Sale was named the expected Opening Day starter for next season by Red Sox manager Alex Cora. That’s both A) bold and B) a major vote of confidence in the southpaw veteran who’s undergone a rocky, injury-riddled past few years with the organization.

“It means a lot, I appreciate that,” Sale told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It gives me something to look forward to other than just being healthy. Not only am I trying to be healthy, I’m trying to build on things. I’m not trying to get to zero by spring training, I’m trying to build something up. So it definitely gives me something to chase this offseason which is good.”

Overall, 2023 didn’t go as planned for either the Red Sox or Sale, but at least the seven-time All-Star closed the year on a strong note. Sale was both healthy and effective in the final stretch, pitching to a 2.88 through his final five starts, which he’ll look to pick up on next season.

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Cora revealed that ahead of Sale’s final start, the two had a conversation regarding next season’s Opening Day against the Seattle Mariners.

“I talked to him like, ‘If everything goes well, you already enjoyed Game 2, Opening Day at Fenway this year. The goal is for you to pitch that first game in Seattle,'” Cora explained pregame, per NESN. “… That’s the goal, for Chris to have that start.”

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