Red Sox ace Chris Sale reached another important milestone at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon, as he faced live hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring.
Working off the mound at Fenway after warming up in the bullpen as if he were preparing for a start, Sale threw 15 pitches to hitters while mixing in fastballs, changeups, and sliders.
According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, Sale threw 45 pitches in all, with the last 15 being to hitters. He faced off against Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis, and Bobby Dalbec — all right-handed bats.
“Everything went well,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo). “He felt good about it. I think his next one is next week. We’re excited. He looked really good.”
Kevin Plawecki, who appears to have caught Sale on Saturday, added that his outing ‘was nasty’ on Twitter.
This latest achievement for Sale comes less than a full week after the left-hander threw a 45-pitch bullpen session at Double-A Portland’s Hadlock Field this past Tuesday, which came a few short days after he threw his first 45-pitch bullpen at Triple-A Worcester’s Polar Park last Friday.
As for what’s next, Sale will face live hitters once more sometime next week before the Sox depart for their west-coast road trip that begins on July 2 in Oakland.
Per Cotillo, Sale could be lined up to start a rehab assignment with a Red Sox minor-league affiliate sooner rather than later depending on how he reacts to an increase in workload while facing hitters.
The 32-year-old hurler underwent Tommy John surgery last March — on his 31st birthday, actually — and could be on track to rejoin Boston’s starting rotation by mid-August if all goes according to plan.
That being said, the Red Sox first want to ensure that Sale wakes up Sunday morning without feeling any sort of discomfort before deciding on the next steps to be taken.
“Let’s wait how he reacts to this and then we’ll make a decision,” said Cora.
And so the waiting begins.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)