'Boogeyman's coming': How Chris Sale's return to Red Sox could shake up the American League

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The reasons for optimism continue adding up around Fenway Park.

Two and a half months into the season, the Boston Red Sox are in the thick of the American League East race, within striking distance of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays and comfortably ahead of the rival New York Yankees, the preseason favorite. Many of Boston’s questions heading into the season centered around its rotation, led by Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez by pedigree, but anchored in performance for much of the season by Martin Perez, Nick Pivetta and Garrett Richards.

Underscoring the excitement around the 2021 team is the impending return of ace Chris Sale, who has not pitched in a game since August 2019. While Sale’s role upon his return from Tommy John surgery remains unclear, the addition of a Cy Young Award winner at midseason potentially represents a bigger addition than anything the team might add at the trade deadline.

Or, as Red Sox minor leaguer Connor Seabold put it on Twitter, “Boogeyman’s coming.”

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“We are taking it day by day,” manager Alex Cora said. “Let’s see how he comes back tomorrow and we’ll do the next thing that we have to do, but we’re not even talking

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