Red Sox News: Chris Sale on 2021 return, “I’ll be there soon enough”

Red Sox ace Chris Sale is feeling good about his recovery

As if there wasn’t enough buzz around the city with the Houston Astros in town, we got an added dose of adrenaline this afternoon. Red Sox ace Chris Sale was at Fenway Park where the coaching and training staff had him toss a 25 pitch bullpen session, and things went very well. Now, we can’t get too ahead of ourselves as Alex Cora made it clear we still have a ways to go, but the outing was very promising nonetheless.

Both Cora and Sale spoke to the media after the session via Zoom and made sure to reign in everyone’s expectations. The Boston skipper let it be known that there still isn’t much of a timetable as we all know recovery from Tommy John can be beyond tricky. Based on what they saw, the results of today would put Sale on the level of a bullpen session in January.

“They kind of said it’s a bullpen in January, so they basically said don’t get too excited. But it felt good to see him, it feels good to have him around. And now we get excited, but at the same time we still have to be disciplined. We have to be patient. Whenever he’s ready, we know he’s going to contribute.”

Had Sale not run into the setbacks that he had during this road back to the mound we very well may have either seen him already or would be counting down the days. Unfortunately, a nasty bout with COVID and a neck issue pushed the calendar back and now we may not see him until well into the second half.

I appreciate that the Red Sox want to be patient and not rush him back considering his age, level of wear and tear, and the team’s financial investment. With a serious fight for the division on the horizon, they’ll need him as healthy as possible to fend off the rest of the AL East. Considering how well the rotation has held up through the first two months of the season there really isn’t a dire need for him back ASAP, though Sale would have it otherwise.

“I’d like to be out there already,” Sale said. “From where I started in spring training to where I am now, I’ve done everything I possibly could to put myself in the best position. I’ve had a lot of help through this process. A lot of people guiding me and getting me through this. So I’ve been very pleased with what has been going on and where I’m at.”

We all knew that The Condor would want to get back to the team as fast as possible and it’s no secret the level of competitor he is, but he’s showing a great level of discipline and patience. He did mention that he has yet to face any live batters though there have been some people in the batter’s box at least. This will help him get a good gauge on his control and placement as he all probably laughed at his quips from last week’s session where his slider went everywhere.

We saw another lefty with ties to the Red Sox make his return in 2021 in David Price and the Dodgers opted to bring him back via the bullpen to shake off the rust. It’s an idea I also thought could work for Sale when he made his first throws off a mound recently. It would be an easy way to give the bullpen a boost while also allowing him to get back into real-life game scenarios without too much stress on his arm.

The subject came up today during his presser and the southpaw was more than open to the idea, especially if it allows him back in the game sooner. Imagine being the opposition and thinking you’re going to see Hirozaku Sawamura or Adam Ottavino and this lunatic trots out of the bullpen, no thank you. I mean, just ask Manny Machado what that feels like.

“One-hundred percent,” he said as he knocked on wood. “Unless something crazy happens.”

It’s good to see that both sides of this equation are optimistic that he’ll be back with the team in due time. While we still have no real timetable for Sale to come back, excitement grows with each and every progress update. Having him back in the lineup would give this team an instant shot in the arm and boost their chances at postseason baseball exponentially. The Red Sox have had a hell of a season up to this point and getting back one of their best arms can only mean more good things on the horizon.