Red Sox ace Chris Sale is slated to make his first rehab start in Southwest Florida on Thursday, Alex Cora said following Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Phillies.
Sale, who tossed two innings in a simulated game at the Sox’ spring training facility in Fort Myers on Saturday, woke up Sunday morning without issue, leading to this next step being taken.
“He texted me. Everything is good,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Matt Vautour) Sunday afternoon. “He felt great today.”
Thursday will mark the first time Sale has pitched in a competitive environment since August 13, 2019, as he has been on the road back from Tommy John surgery after undergoing the procedure last March — more than 16 months ago.
The Florida Complex League Red Sox will be taking on the Florida Complex League Orioles in Sarasota on Thursday, with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. eastern time.
“The plan is for him to go two innings in Fort Myers,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He’s pitching in the game down there.”
If all is well with Sale come Friday morning, one would have to assume the 32-year-old would be lined up to make his next rehab start with Double-A Portland on July 20.
That being the case because the Red Sox would prefer to keep Sale within close proximity to Boston so that he has easy access to the team’s medical staff if needed.
The Sea Dogs begin a 12-game homestand at Hadlock Field in Portland on July 20 that runs through August 1, while the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox will be away from Polar Park from July 20 through July 25, but kick off a six-game homestand on July 27.
While Sale will begin his rehab assignment with a two-inning outing on Thursday, the plan will ultimately be to get him stretched out to five or six innings before he is ready to return to the big-league club, as Cora said on Saturday.
“He’ll probably go two in the first one,” said Cora. “It’s a lot different than just pitching down there. It’s not the big leagues, but it’s a real game. He’s going to be anxious. He’s going to be excited. The whole day is going to be different. Probably two innings. From there, we’ll see where it takes us.”
(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)