Red Sox ace Chris Sale took yet another positive step in the right direction in his road back from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday night.
Five days after a successful outing for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox in Sarasota, Fla., Sale was at it again, this time suiting up for Double-A Portland in front of a sold-out crowd at Hadlock Field.
Over 3 2/3 innings of work against the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals affiliate), the veteran left-hander did not allow a single run or hit while waking just one batter and striking out six for the Sea Dogs.
Coming into the night, Sale was going to be capped at three or four innings depending on how many pitches he would need. His day ended with a five-pitch strikeout of Aldrem Corredor for the second out of the fourth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 49 (34 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler wound up retiring 10 of the 12 batters he faced, as he promptly picked off the runner he had walked — Gage Canning — in the top half of the first before Canning reached base once again three innings later on a fielding error.
Besides that, Sale, on all accounts, was nearly perfect in the process of reaching 97-98 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
Tuesday’s performance marks another important milestone for Sale as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John, which he underwent nearly 16 months ago — on his 31st birthday (March 30, 2020), no less — after experiencing inflammation in his throwing elbow during the latter half of the 2019 season.
In the time since undergoing that procedure on his elbow last spring, the 6-foot-6 southpaw has now reached a point where he has been pitching every five days and has made two rehab starts between the FCL Red Sox and Sea Dogs.
Assuming he wakes up on Wednesday morning with no ill effects from his latest outing, Sale, a seven-time All-Star, could be in line to make his next start on July 25 if he remains on the schedule he has been on.
Since the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox will be on the road and the Sea Dogs will still be at home, it seems likely that Sale will once again toe the rubber at Hadlock Field for this coming Sunday’s matchup against the Senators.
In the meantime, Sale told reporters (including Cotillo) Tuesday night that he plans on working out in Portland on Wednesday, but the Red Sox have yet to give him instructions for any next steps beyond that.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)