Red Sox’ Chris Sale punches out 9 over 3 2/3 innings in second rehab start for Double-A Portland; left-hander in line to start for Triple-A Worcester on July 31

Red Sox ace Chris Sale completed his third rehab start and his second for Double-A Portland at a sold-out Hadlock Field on Sunday afternoon.

Matched up against the Harrisburg Senators — the same team he faced on Tuesday — Sale yielded two earned runs on six hits, no walks, and one hit batsman to go along with nine strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work for the Sea Dogs.

The veteran left-hander was slated to pitch four or five frames depending on his pitch count, but a laborious third inning that required 28 pitches ultimately cut his day short.

After maneuvering his way around a two-out double in an otherwise clean first inning and striking out the side while stranding a runner in the second, Sale ran into a bit of trouble in the top half of the third.

There, he served up a leadoff home run to the Senators’ No. 9 hitter in Osvaldo Duarte before giving up a double and bunt single. Two straight punchouts brought the lefty to within one out of escaping the jam, but he plunked a batter to load the bases.

With two outs and the bases full in the third, Sale fanned Jackson Cluff on a swing-inducing slider to get out of the inning and then recorded the first two outs of the fourth before a two-out double marked the unofficial end of his outing.

In relief of Sale, Sea Dogs reliever Dominic LaBrutto allowed the lone runner he inherited to score on an RBI single, thus officially closing the book on Sale’s afternoon.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (46 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler wound up retiring 11 of the 18 hitters he faced, as he hovered around 94-95 mph with his four-seam fastball and topped out at 96 mph with it while mixing in his slider and changeup as well.

For Sale, Sunday’s performance marked yet another milestone on his road back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent nearly 16 months ago on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday.

In the time since undergoing that procedure to repair his UCL last spring, the 6-foot-6 southpaw has now made three rehab starts between the Florida Complex League Red Sox and Sea Dogs dating back to July 15. He has seen his pitch count rise from 39 to 49 to 64 in each of those outings.

Assuming he wakes up without issue Monday morning, Sale will be in line to make his next rehab start for Triple-A Worcester next Saturday, July 31, as the WooSox will be taking on the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park.

There is a slight chance that could be Sale’s last minor-league start before he re-joins Boston’s major-league rotation, though Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush recently told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that the club wants the seven-time All-Star to be at a point where he contribute five to six innings on 80 or so pitches every five days prior to him being activated off the injured list.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale set to make another rehab start for Double-A Portland on Sunday

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)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale dominates with 6 strikeouts over 3 2/3 scoreless, no-hit innings in rehab start for Double-A Portland

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)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale strikes out 5 over 3 scoreless innings in first start of rehab assignment

Red Sox ace Chris Sale began his highly-anticipated rehab assignment on Thursday afternoon, and it’s safe to say things got off to a positive start.

Starting for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox in their contest against the FCL Orioles Orange team at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Sale was scheduled to throw two innings, but wound up going three instead.

Over those three frames, the veteran left-hander kept the Orioles off the scoreboard while scattering just four hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the day.

After working his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise perfect first inning, Sale put himself in a bit of a jam in the bottom of the second, as he fanned the first batter of the inning before putting two straight Orioles on on back-to-back singles.

Faced with runners on the corners and two outs still to get, the 32-year-old dialed it up and punched out both Ricardo Castro and Luis Sena in consecutive order to get out of the inning.

In the third inning, Sale again allowed another runner to reach base on a one-out double, but got Moises Ramirez to ground out and followed that up by striking out the last man he faced — Isaac Bellony — on three pitches to end his outing on an encouraging note.

Of the 13 Orioles who came to the plate against him on Thursday, Sale induced two groundouts and one fly out in addition to the five punchouts. He finished with a final pitch count of 39.

Per SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Sale relied on his fastball, slider, and changeup over the course of his three innings pitched. The fiery southpaw topped out at 94 mph with his heater, hovered around 78-79 mph with his slider, and sat between 85-87 mph with his changeup.

Cundall also noted that Sale’s feel for his secondary pitches improved as he threw them more and that the majority of the contact he gave up was weak.

Sale, as you may recall, is on the road back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday — after experiencing inflammation in his throwing elbow throughout the latter half of the 2019 season.

The seven-time All-Star last appeared in a major-league game on August 13, 2019, when he struck out 12 over 6 2/3 innings against the Indians at Progressive Field.

In working his way back from Tommy John, Sale has now reached the point where he can face live hitters, as he has done on a frequent basis since late June.

Under the pretext that he wakes up Friday morning without feeling any sort of pain or discomfort in his left elbow, Sale could be in line to make his second rehab start early next week seeing how he has been pitching every five days.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had previously said that the club would like to keep Sale close to Boston while he rehabs so that he has easy access to the team’s medical staff. With that condition in mind, it appears likely that Sale’s next outing will come with Double-A Portland, per Cora.

The Sea Dogs open up a 12-game homestand at Hadlock Field beginning on Tuesday, July 20, so that should be the date for Sale’s next rehab start if he continues to pitch on four days rest. He probably would see his workload increase to four innings as well.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale to make first rehab start on Thursday; left-hander will pitch 2 innings in Florida Complex League game

Red Sox ace Chris Sale is slated to make his first rehab start in Southwest Florida on Thursday, Alex Cora said following Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Phillies.

Sale, who tossed two innings in a simulated game at the Sox’ spring training facility in Fort Myers on Saturday, woke up Sunday morning without issue, leading to this next step being taken.

“He texted me. Everything is good,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Matt Vautour) Sunday afternoon. “He felt great today.”

Thursday will mark the first time Sale has pitched in a competitive environment since August 13, 2019, as he has been on the road back from Tommy John surgery after undergoing the procedure last March — more than 16 months ago.

The Florida Complex League Red Sox will be taking on the Florida Complex League Orioles in Sarasota on Thursday, with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. eastern time.

“The plan is for him to go two innings in Fort Myers,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He’s pitching in the game down there.”

If all is well with Sale come Friday morning, one would have to assume the 32-year-old would be lined up to make his next rehab start with Double-A Portland on July 20.

That being the case because the Red Sox would prefer to keep Sale within close proximity to Boston so that he has easy access to the team’s medical staff if needed.

The Sea Dogs begin a 12-game homestand at Hadlock Field in Portland on July 20 that runs through August 1, while the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox will be away from Polar Park from July 20 through July 25, but kick off a six-game homestand on July 27.

While Sale will begin his rehab assignment with a two-inning outing on Thursday, the plan will ultimately be to get him stretched out to five or six innings before he is ready to return to the big-league club, as Cora said on Saturday.

“He’ll probably go two in the first one,” said Cora. “It’s a lot different than just pitching down there. It’s not the big leagues, but it’s a real game. He’s going to be anxious. He’s going to be excited. The whole day is going to be different. Probably two innings. From there, we’ll see where it takes us.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale takes next step towards rehab assignment; ‘Tomorrow is a big day,’ Alex Cora says

Red Sox ace Chris Sale appears to be on the verge of being sent out on a rehab assignment after another successful simulated game on Saturday.

While the Red Sox were in the process of losing to the Philles, 11-5, on Saturday afternoon, Sale threw two simulated innings in which he faced live hitters at the club’s spring training facility in Fort Myers.

Per Sox manager Alex Cora, reports from head athletic trainer Brad Pearson pertaining to the left-hander’s outing came back positive.

“Everything [was] good. He was good,” Cora said Saturday night. “Brad told me he struck out a lot of people down there. As far as his stuff, he was was really good.”

If Sale, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, wakes up Sunday morning without feeling any sort of discomfort in his throwing elbow, the next step would likely be to send him out on a rehab assignment with one of the Sox’ minor-league affiliates.

“Tomorrow is a big day. He did what he did today,” Cora said of Sale. “Let’s see how he shows up tomorrow. Hopefully, everything is fine. After that, we can map it out.”

The 32-year-old hurler underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday — after dealing with elbow inflammation during the latter stages of the 2019 season and the early stages of spring training in 2020.

Sale last took a big-league mound on August 13, 2019, when he struck out 12 over 6 2/3 innings against the Indians in Cleveland, so it’s safe to assume that the Sox will ease their way back when it comes to building the seven-time All-Star up to a reasonable five- or six-inning workload.

“He’ll probably go two in the first one,” Cora said. “It’s a lot different than just pitching down there. It’s not the big leagues, but it’s a real game. He’s going to be anxious. He’s going to be excited. The whole day is going to be different. Probably two innings. From there, we’ll see where it takes us.”

Based off his throwing schedule in which he has been pitching every five days, it would appear that Sale would be in line to make his first rehab start on July 15.

Cora has previously said that the Red Sox would like to keep Sale close to Boston while he is rehabbing so the team’s medical staff has easy access to him if needed.

With that in mind, the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox will be playing against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at home at Polar Park from July 13 through July 18, while the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs will have a 12-game homestand at Hadlock Field that begins on July 20 and runs through August 1.

That being said, it seems likely that Sale would make his first rehab outing for the WooSox on July 15 and, if everything goes swimmingly, make his second rehab outing for the Sea Dogs on July 20.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale on cusp of rehab assignment after latest simulated game goes well

Red Sox ace Chris Sale took another positive step towards his highly-anticipated return to the major-league mound this week.

Sale threw a two-inning simulated game at the Sox’ spring training complex in Fort Myers on Monday and is slated to do so again on Saturday, according to manager Alex Cora.

If all is well with Sale come Sunday, the next step in the process would be for the Red Sox to send the veteran left-hander out on a rehab assignment, though it’s not yet known which affiliate he would report to and how many starts he would make with said affiliate.

“Everything went well,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) in Anaheim earlier Tuesday afternoon. “The next one will be Saturday. It’s one more simulated game. This is probably the last one before a rehab start. Obviously, it all depends on how he feels on Sunday but it feels that way. He’s excited. He felt great today. Just stay the course.”

Sale, who last pitched in a big-league game on August 13, 2019, underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020, his 31st birthday.

Since that time, the now-32-year-old hurler has worked his way back to a point where he has faced live hitters on multiple occasions within the last few weeks and is seemingly on the cusp of getting into actual, competitive games again, albeit at the minor-league level.

As noted by Cotillo, the Red Sox would like to keep Sale close to Boston so he has easy access to the team’s medical staff if needed. Because of this, he will likely only be rehabbing in Portland and Worcester.

Considering that he last pitched on July 5 and is slated to do so again on July 10, it’s safe to assume that Sale is on a consistent schedule where he is on the mound every five days.

With that in mind, it appears as though the lanky southpaw’s first rehab appearance — and first in-game action in nearly two years — could come for the WooSox when they take on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in the fourth game of a seven-game series at Polar Park on July 15.

Again, this all depends on how Sale is feeling after his next sim game on Saturday, but it certainly seems like there is plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to the seven-time All-Stars impending return to Boston’s starting rotation later this summer.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Chris Sale’s latest live bullpen session at Fenway Park was ‘eye-opening,’ Alex Cora says

Chris Sale keeps giving the Red Sox reasons to get excited for his impending return to the mound.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sale threw a live batting practice session at Fenway Park. marking the second time he has faced hitters since undergoing Tommy John surgery last March.

Facing off against the right-handed bats of Christian Arroyo and Connor Wong in near-100 degree heat in the Fenway-area, the ace left-hander threw 15 pitches and topped out at 95 mph with his fastball, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Wednesday’s outing marked another important milestone for Sale, and it was one that, quite frankly, left Red Sox manager Alex Cora thoroughly impressed with what he saw from the lefty.

“What we saw today was eye-opening,” Cora said earlier Wednesday afternoon. “Good slider, good changeup, 94-95 mph velocity. We just got to be patient. But he’s already making an impact in the clubhouse — just his mere presence. His knowledge, his communication with other guys is helping. I know he’s looking forward to contributing on the field, but so far, he’s made an impact already on this club.”

What about Sale’s performance was so “eye-opening” in Cora’s view? Well, his command of the strike zone certainly helped.

“Just his command of the pitches. That’s something that I didn’t expect,” said Cora. “He was able to throw fastballs inside, fastballs arm-side up and away to put people away. The changeup was good, the slider was good. And that’s something that — throughout the process — I do believe that’s kind of like the last thing you get, right? The changeup and command. And for him to be dotting pitches already, that’s a great sign.”

Assuming Sale wakes up on Thursday without any sort of issue, the next step for the 32-year-old hurler will be to throw to hitters once again sometime next week, according to Cora. That will however take place in Fort Myers — and last two innings as opposed to just one — since the Red Sox will be out on the west coast and Sale will not be traveling with the team.

From there, Sale could be ready to head out on a rehab assignment with a minor-league affiliate by next week, though Boston would like to keep him close by (with Double-A Portland or Triple-A Worcester) as opposed to far away (with Low-A Salem or High-A Greenville).

“[Head trainer Brad Pearson] feels like we should keep [Sale] around and play him at the highest two levels (Double-A and Triple-A),” Cora said. “And the fact that Worcester is right here, the facilities are good, we can do the same thing we used to do in Pawtucket. They get their work in here, then they go over there and pitch. I think that’s what Brad envisions, so hopefully that’s the case.”

Sale, who underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday — last pitched in a major-league game on August 13, 2019.

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, Sale could be ready to make his return to the Red Sox’ starting rotation by late July or early August depending on how many rehab starts he requires.

If that plan comes to fruition and Sale is activated off the injured list within the coming weeks, the Sox would be adding a seven-time All-Star to their rotation at just the right time for the home stretch of the regular season and beyond.

“It’s like I said before, ‘Nobody can trade for Chris Sale,'” Cora said emphatically. “We can add Chris Sale to the equation. This is a guy, he’s looking forward to contribute. He’s in a great frame of mind. Physically, he looks tremendous.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Tanner Houck tosses four 2-run innings in third start back for Triple-A Worcester as questions loom for Boston’s starting rotation

Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck took another important step in building up his arm strength at Polar Park on Tuesday night, which also happened to be his 25th birthday.

Making his third start for Triple-A Worcester since coming off the injured list after missing more than a month with flexor muscle soreness, Houck put together his longest outing in quite a while.

Over four innings of work, the right-hander allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits, zero walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with four strikeouts on the evening.

Both runs Houck surrendered came in his fourth and final frame, as he breezed through the first three and retired the first nine hitters he faced in order before running into some trouble as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ (Yankees affiliate) flipped back over.

In the fourth, Houck issued a leadoff single to Estevan Florial, a run-scoring groundout to Hoy Jun Park that was aided by a throwing error, and back-to-back singles to Ryan LaMarre and Socrates Brito.

He followed that sequence by plunking the next two RailRiders — Derek Dietrich and Kyle Holder — to first load the bases and then allow another run to score.

From there, Houck got Trey Amburgey to ground into a forceout and proceeded to fan Rob Brantly on five pitches to limit any further damage while also ending his night on a more somewhat positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (40 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler now owns an ERA of 3.32, a WHIP of 0.66, and a batting average against of .158 in three starts (10 2/3 innings pitched) with the WooSox since returning the mound on June 17.

In each of those starts, Houck has seen his workload increase from three innings on 45 pitches (26 strikes) to 3 2/3 innings on 58 (38 strikes) to four full innings on 67 pitches (40 strikes) on Tuesday.

“I feel good, feel strong, everything feels normal, and I’m excited for [my next start] Sunday,” Houck told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison following the WooSox’ 9-7 loss to the RailRiders. “I’ve felt strong since the first outing. I just want to continue to pitch, pitch strong and keep moving forward.”

Houck has not started a major-league game for the Red Sox since April 18. Since making his big-league debut last September, the former first-round pick has posted a 1.98 ERA and 2.92 FIP over six total appearances (five starts) and 27 1/3 innings of work.

At the moment, the Sox have a healthy five-man starting rotation comprised of Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez.

That said, Boston’s starters have not been particularly sharp as of late (5.40 starters’ ERA in June), and the club is preparing for a stretch out of the All-Star break next month where they are scheduled to play 18 games in 18 days (all against the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays) from July 15 until August 1.

When asked earlier Tuesday afternoon if the team would consider reshuffling its starting rotation or adding a sixth starter — such as Houck — to the mix post-All-Star break, Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not get too specific, but he did seem open to the idea of reinforcements for the rotation in the not so distant future.

“We’ll talk about it. I actually found out yesterday that we play on Thursday after the All-Star break. I thought it was a three-game series and I was actually planning on going to Puerto Rico. But, no, I’m not going to do that now,” Cora said with a grin on his face. “It’s a lot of straight games, a lot of good lineups. We’re talking about that. We’re talking about that.

“August, it’s going to help us with the five off-days,” added Cora. “That’s going to be very important. But, we’re going to need some help at one point. And these guys, they’ve been posting the whole time. So we’ll see where we go with it.”

In addition to Houck building back up in Worcester, Chris Sale is also slated to throw another live batting practice session at Fenway Park.

Cora described Sale, who is on the road back from Tommy John surgery after undergoing the procedure last March, as someone who “is feeling amazing” in between the days he has pitched, so that is certainly an encouraging development on the Red Sox’ note.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, if all goes well with Sale on Wednesday and the day after, the ace left-hander could be in line to begin a rehab assignment with a Red Sox minor-league affiliate sometime in July.

Like Houck, Sale represents another potential reinforcement for a Red Sox starting rotation that has left plenty to be desired recently.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Ashley Green/Telegram & Gazette)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale faces live hitters at Fenway Park for first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery

Red Sox ace Chris Sale reached another important milestone at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon, as he faced live hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring.

Working off the mound at Fenway after warming up in the bullpen as if he were preparing for a start, Sale threw 15 pitches to hitters while mixing in fastballs, changeups, and sliders.

According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, Sale threw 45 pitches in all, with the last 15 being to hitters. He faced off against Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis, and Bobby Dalbec — all right-handed bats.

“Everything went well,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo). “He felt good about it. I think his next one is next week. We’re excited. He looked really good.”

Kevin Plawecki, who appears to have caught Sale on Saturday, added that his outing ‘was nasty’ on Twitter.

This latest achievement for Sale comes less than a full week after the left-hander threw a 45-pitch bullpen session at Double-A Portland’s Hadlock Field this past Tuesday, which came a few short days after he threw his first 45-pitch bullpen at Triple-A Worcester’s Polar Park last Friday.

As for what’s next, Sale will face live hitters once more sometime next week before the Sox depart for their west-coast road trip that begins on July 2 in Oakland.

Per Cotillo, Sale could be lined up to start a rehab assignment with a Red Sox minor-league affiliate sooner rather than later depending on how he reacts to an increase in workload while facing hitters.

The 32-year-old hurler underwent Tommy John surgery last March — on his 31st birthday, actually — and could be on track to rejoin Boston’s starting rotation by mid-August if all goes according to plan.

That being said, the Red Sox first want to ensure that Sale wakes up Sunday morning without feeling any sort of discomfort before deciding on the next steps to be taken.

“Let’s wait how he reacts to this and then we’ll make a decision,” said Cora.

And so the waiting begins.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)