It’s official: Chris Sale will make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox when they go up against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
Sale has spent the entirety of the season on the 60-day injured list due to a right rib cage stress fracture he sustained while throwing a bullpen session at his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University, back in February. His recovery was then slowed for a few weeks in May because of a non-baseball health concern related to his family’s medical history.
After resuming his throwing program, Sale began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on June 20. The 33-year-old left-hander made two starts for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate before moving up to Double-A Portland. He then made one start for the Sea Dogs before taking his rehab to Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday.
Matched up against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park, Sale allowed one run on three hits and five walks to go along with five strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work. Forty-two of the 72 pitches he threw went for strikes as he mixed in a high-90s fastball, mid-80s changeup, and high-70s slider.
Despite the high number of walks and the fact he did not pitch more than four innings in any of his outings, Sale will return to the Sox’ rotation to start the second game of their four-game series with the Rays.
Sale’s return should be a welcomed one, as the Red Sox currently find themselves mired in starting rotation issues with Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, and Michael Wacha all out on the injured list for the time being.
Since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020, Sale has made just nine starts for Boston over the last three seasons. Unlike his recovery from elbow reconstruction, though, the veteran lefty says he is in a better place physically because he has not had to build back up his arm strength.
“Coming back from a major arm surgery last year, there were a lot of question marks still,” Sale said Wednesday. “This year’s more of just sharpening the sword, not rebuilding it.”
A seven-time All-Star, Sale is in the third year of the five-year, $145 million contract extension he signed with the Red Sox in March 2019. He has the ability to opt out of his deal at season’s end, though that seems unlikely to happen.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)