DENNIS, Mass. — When Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale takes the mound Friday, few will be cheering harder than John “Doc” Serijan.
“Oh, God. I’m really excited,” Serijan said. “Very happy for him. I’m apprehensive, I hope he does well. I know one thing, he’ll give you everything he’s got.”
Serijan and the starter go way back to the summer of 2009 when Serijan was Sale’s host parent, opening up his home to the young left-hander as he played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Since making it to the big leagues, Sale has stayed in touch with Serijan, talking more than just baseball.
“He was a joy to be around. He was seriously a lot of fun,” Serijan recalled. “The thing I’m the most proud of with Chris is the father, the husband and the man he’s become. Baseball is great; the accolades come. But he’s just one heck of a human being. Love him dearly.”
After Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced Thursday that Sale would be starting in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in Houston, Serijan celebrated with a beer at Ardeo Tavern in West Dennis, just a few miles from where the pair first bonded 12 years ago.
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Sale, who returned from the injured list in August and struggled in the Division Series, told reporters Thursday he was “trying to iron out some kinks, get back to a good rhythm and find it and just ride it out as long as I can.”
Serijan is confident Sale will perform. Game 1 happens to fall on Serijan’s birthday, which he hopes brings his old friend good luck.
“I know he had a tough outing his last start. So, I think this time it’s going to be just the opposite,” Serijan said. “That would be my birthday gift, to see Chris do very, very well, because nobody wants it – believe me – more than Chris.”
As a young ballplayer from Florida, Sale impressed with his fastball and his changeup, quickly making a name for himself on the Cape with both his teammates and scouts, Yarmouth-Dennis Manager Scott Pickler told Boston 25 News. That summer, Sale was named MVP of the league’s All-Star Game at Fenway Park.
“The kids rallied around him. He was so much fun to be around,” Pickler said. “He really put himself on the map that summer.”
Pickler will also be proudly watching Sale start Friday. They, too, have kept in touch over the last dozen years.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Pickler said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else on the mound.”
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