Red Sox ace Chris Sale woke up Wednesday morning without issue and is in line to make his next rehab start this weekend, manager Alex Cora said Wednesday afternoon.
Sale, who is on the road back from Tommy John surgery, dominated in his rehab outing for Double-A Portland Tuesday night, striking out six and walking just one over 3 2/3 scoreless, no-hit innings against the Harrisburg Senators in front of a sold-out crowd at Hadlock Field.
It was Sale’s second rehab start of the month and his first in front of thousands of fans in nearly two years.
Of the 49 pitches the veteran left-hander threw on Tuesday, 34 went for strikes. He retired 10 of the 12 hitters he faced and topped out at 97-98 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball while also mixing in his swing-inducing slider.
“He was a little bit off mechanics-wise early on,” Cora said of Sale prior to Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo. “That’s part of the progression. Now he’s pitching in front of fans. Obviously the competition is a little better. But he settled down and he was able to repeat his delivery. His slider was really good. The fastball obviously was up velocity-wise. Everybody is very happy with the way the outing went. Warming up, he was excited. He was a little bit off. But little by little, he was able to repeat it and he was great.”
This latest milestone for Sale comes nearly 17 months after he initially underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday.
Since that time, the 32-year-old hurler has reached the point where he can now face live hitters in a competitive environment on a regular schedule.
After completing his start in Portland on Tuesday, Sale was to work out with the Sea Dogs on Wednesday and is now slated to start for them once again on regular rest in Sunday’s series finale against the Senators (July 25).
Though it is not yet clear when Sale could potentially make his return to the Red Sox’ starting rotation, one thing is for certain: the day in which the seven-time All-Star takes a big-league mound again is only getting closer and closer.
“Everybody’s excited with what we saw yesterday. I’m happier with the way he reacted today,” said Cora. “Hopefully, we keep progressing the way it should be and he’ll join us whenever he’s ready.”
(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)