Chris Sale threw a bullpen session at Fenway on Tuesday.
On a searing-hot Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park, Chris Sale presented one of the most welcome sights of summer so far for the Red Sox. The lanky lefty stood on the bullpen mound and threw 25 pitches -- mixing in his fastball, changeup and slider.
At last, Sale’s potential return to the Red Sox this season is starting to come into focus.
There are still many more steps to take, as Sale will have to throw multiple live batting practice sessions, then make a typical Spring Training-like workload of rehab starts.
But he has every intention of helping what he believes will be a playoff-contending Red Sox team down the stretch.
“Oh, yeah, 100 percent. I mean, unless something crazy happens,” said Sale, as he knocked on a wooden table in front of him. “Yeah, I’ll be there soon enough.”
How soon is still anyone’s guess. The Red Sox aren’t putting timetables on it. Given the calendar and what Sale still has to do in terms of progression, it seems doubtful he’ll be back with Boston before August.
There’s been some speculation that Sale could pitch in the bullpen when he comes back, because that could speed up his return to the roster. David Price did that for the Red Sox while coming back from an elbow injury in 2017.
“I haven’t really thought about that, honestly,” said Sale. “If they told me, ‘Hey, we need a guy in the bullpen and we’ll build you up there instead of doing like a rehab assignment,’ hell, I would be game for that. The quicker I can get on this team, I would like that. But that is way above my pay grade and where I’m at right now. I’m focused on my next day and getting off the mound. And whatever the next step is, take that, but I haven’t really talked about that a whole lot.”
Let the Sale Watch commence!To Cora, the best sign on Tuesday was that Sale seemed to be 100 percent focused on pitching and not at all thinking about the state of his left arm.
“The fact that he was only talking about mechanics is refreshing. He's in a great place mentally. Physically, he looks a lot stronger than two years ago,” said Cora. “He's just excited that he's a baseball player again. It felt good to see him. It feels good to have him around. We get excited, but at the same time, we still have to be disciplined, we have to be patient. And whenever he's ready, we know he's going to contribute.”
For all the monotonous rehab Sale had to do following his Tommy John surgery on March 30, he at last feels he is in the home stretch.
“When I’m throwing, I feel normal,” said Sale. “I feel like I did when I was a kid. I don’t have this thought in the back of my mind about the surgery I had on a given throw or anything like that. I was actually saying, the last two or three weeks, I feel like I’m starting to build up as a pitcher as opposed to on a back end of a rehab. I don’t feel like I’m rehab throwing. I feel like I’m pitching throwing. That’s a good spot to be in. I’m appreciative of that.”