Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale officially began his rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Monday night.
Getting the start against the Rays’ FCL affiliate in Port Charlotte, Fla., Sale allowed one earned run on one hit, one walk, and one strikeout over just one inning of work.
After issuing a leadoff walk to Odalys Peguero, Sale rebounded by striking out fellow major-leaguer Wander Franco — who is also on a rehab assignment — with a slider (and wild pitch) that allowed Peguero to advance to second base.
With one out and a runner in scoring position, Sale got Carlos Colmenarez to pop out to short. Peguero then proceeded to steal third and score from there on an RBI single off the bat of Junior Caminero.
Sale ended his outing by getting Jhon Diaz to ground out to second, so he wound up retiring three of the five batters he faced. Rather than come back out for a second inning, the 33-year-old was relieved by right-hander Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz. He threw 22 pitches and topped out at 96 mph with his fastball, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
This was the first time Sale pitched in a competitive environment since Game 5 of last October’s American League Championship Series. The veteran southpaw began the season on the 60-day injured list because of a right rib stress fracture he sustained during a bullpen session in late February. His recovery was then slowed due to what he described as a non-baseball health concern related to his family’s medical history.
Now that he has one rehab outing under his belt, Sale will likely need to make three or four more while working on a starter’s schedule in order to get stretched out to five innings. When that milestone is reached (presumably sometime next month), he will be ready to return to Boston’s starting rotation.
“He’ll be here at one point, and he’s going to contribute,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Sale, via MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “Like I said before, this is a lot different than last year as far as his arm [goes]. He’s in a much better spot. He’s moving a lot better, so we expect him to use all his pitches, which is important compared to last year. Just be him. It’s a trade that not everybody can do.”
(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)