Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale will begin a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Monday, the team announced on Friday. It will mark Sale’s first in-game action since Game 5 of last October’s American League Championship Series.
Sale, who faced live hitters at Fenway Park on Thursday, has returned to Fort Myers and will throw two innings against the Florida Complex League Rays in Port Charlotte on Monday night.
In a conversation with NESN’s Tom Caron prior to Friday’s contest against the Cardinals, Red Sox manager Alex Cora relayed that Sale will return as a starter and will be built up to five innings before he makes his 2022 debut.
“Hopefully that’s the beginning of his rehab, and from there, it’s just a countdown,” said Cora. “We’re going to build him up as a starter. That’s loud and clear. We just got to be patient and whenever he comes back, we know he’s going to contribute.
As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Sale will likely need to make four or five rehab starts in the minors before being activated from the 60-day injured list. That would put him on a schedule to return to the Sox at some point around the All-Star break in July.
The 33-year-old southpaw began the season on the 60-day injured list after suffering a stress fracture in his right rib age back in February. His throwing program was then paused last month due to a “non-medical baseball situation.”
In his live batting practice session on Thursday, Sale threw 32 pitches over two simulated innings. He sat between 94-95 mph with his fastball and the Red Sox were impressed with what they saw from his changeup.
Upon returning from Tommy John surgery last season, opponents were 16-for-36 (.444) against Sale’s changeup, per Smith. That will need to change if Sale intends to be more effective in 2022.
“I think that’s the difference between last year and this year,” Cora said. “He was a two-pitch pitcher for a month and a half. This year, obviously being that far away from the surgery now, this will play.”
(Picture of Chris Sale: Elsa/Getty Images)