By Tiffany Chan

BOSTON (CBS) – It wasn’t the stomach flu that landed Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale in the hospital during the AL Championship Series. Sale was completely straight-faced – didn’t even crack a smile – as he revealed the reason: his belly ring.

“I had an irritation from a belly-button ring that I kind of constantly was pulling in and out,” Sale said. “It caused an irritation, a rash down there, so I had to take care of that. The doctors and nurses at MGH were awesome.”

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WHAT? A belly-button ring? It’s unclear whether the pitcher was joking with reporters or completely serious, but he was convincing.

Red Sox fans had mixed emotions.

“I think it’s a prank. I do. It’s Chris Sale! It’s a dominant pitcher in the friggin’ major league baseball. How can he honestly say that he has a belly button – I just don’t get it,” said Sean Richard of Wrentham.

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But others didn’t find it hard to believe at all.

“If you throw almost 100-miles per hour, you have to have some weird stuff. Belly-button ring. I love it,” said Chris Underwood of Somerville.

Sale missed his Game 5 start against the Astros in the ALCS after complaining of a “stomach illness.” While he’s fully recovered now, Sox fans are skeptical that the piercing exists.

“It’s a little suspect. It’s a little random. I’m a huge Sox fan, but if they’re playing a little mind trick, I wouldn’t be opposed to that,” said Scott Corcoran from Brighton.

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Sale is back on the pitcher’s mound for Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Fenway Park. He has yet to confirm whether he’ll be sporting his belly ring.