Red Sox ace Chris Sale took another positive step towards his highly-anticipated return to the major-league mound this week.
Sale threw a two-inning simulated game at the Sox’ spring training complex in Fort Myers on Monday and is slated to do so again on Saturday, according to manager Alex Cora.
If all is well with Sale come Sunday, the next step in the process would be for the Red Sox to send the veteran left-hander out on a rehab assignment, though it’s not yet known which affiliate he would report to and how many starts he would make with said affiliate.
“Everything went well,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) in Anaheim earlier Tuesday afternoon. “The next one will be Saturday. It’s one more simulated game. This is probably the last one before a rehab start. Obviously, it all depends on how he feels on Sunday but it feels that way. He’s excited. He felt great today. Just stay the course.”
Sale, who last pitched in a big-league game on August 13, 2019, underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020, his 31st birthday.
Since that time, the now-32-year-old hurler has worked his way back to a point where he has faced live hitters on multiple occasions within the last few weeks and is seemingly on the cusp of getting into actual, competitive games again, albeit at the minor-league level.
As noted by Cotillo, the Red Sox would like to keep Sale close to Boston so he has easy access to the team’s medical staff if needed. Because of this, he will likely only be rehabbing in Portland and Worcester.
Considering that he last pitched on July 5 and is slated to do so again on July 10, it’s safe to assume that Sale is on a consistent schedule where he is on the mound every five days.
With that in mind, it appears as though the lanky southpaw’s first rehab appearance — and first in-game action in nearly two years — could come for the WooSox when they take on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in the fourth game of a seven-game series at Polar Park on July 15.
Again, this all depends on how Sale is feeling after his next sim game on Saturday, but it certainly seems like there is plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to the seven-time All-Stars impending return to Boston’s starting rotation later this summer.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)