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Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale was forced him to miss his Game 5 start of the ALCS after he was hospitalized with an unspecified stomach illness. On Saturday, he used his deadpan personality to convince reporters that his health condition was something from a spring-break trip gone wrong:

From Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald:

“I had irritation from a belly-button ring, just constantly taking it in and out, causing irritation and got a rash down there,” Sale said with a straight face yesterday at Fenway Park. “Had to take care of that. Doctors and nurses over at (Massachusetts General Hospital) were awesome. Things happen, you handle them and keep moving forward.”

Mastrodonato noted that Sale didn’t smile or laugh while explaining his new navel jewelry, instead letting everyone marinate in the possibility that the pitching hardass really did get a damn belly button ring. He is from Florida, after all.

Thanks to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the public was able to know the truth behind what happened.

Sale confided to several teammates that he was going to tell his tale and see if he could fool the media into buying it.

Mission accomplished.

“He told me that he was going to say that,’’ one Red Sox player told USA TODAY Sports, “but I didn’t believe him.’’

The player spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect Sale’s joke.

All joking aside, it doesn’t sound like the team will elaborate on what actually happened. Manager Alex Cora did not go into detail outside of Sale’s 24-hour hospital trip earlier this week, and Sale was as vague as possible:

“Just had a stomach thing,” he said. “It’s not fun. It’s definitely not fun watching your team. Got to do what you got to do, though. It happened, we dealt with it and we’re here now. We keep rolling.”

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It’s no longer a big deal anyway, because the Red Sox found a way to beat the Astros without him. David Price was more than a suitable replacement, with six shutout innings in the Game 5 win that sent the team to the World Series. Sale is reportedly set to make the Game 1 start against the Dodgers on Tuesday, with over a week of rest under his belt. If Boston wins, he should have to get a real piercing—or at least a toe ring.

[USA Today]