Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is finally back on the mound
The Red Sox sent Sale to the FCL (Florida Complex League) to begin his rehab assignment. The lefty has traveled a long road to recovery since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020 but getting his rehab assignment underway is a significant step toward returning to Boston.
Sale tossed three innings in his first rehab outing and the results sound very encouraging, according to Ian Cundall of SoxProspects.com.
Sale surrendered a leadoff single before retiring the next three batters in order. The single was a bloop base hit and the outs were all recorded on weak contact.
His fastball sat at around 93 mph in the opening frame, which was down only slightly from the 93.5 mph he averaged in 2019. We know that vintage Sale is capable of cranking up the velocity into the upper-90s but there’s no reason for him to unleash that type of heat at this stage of his rehab so the modest readings from the radar gun aren’t a reason to be concerned. Sale also mixed in a 83-85 mph changeup in the opening inning.
In his second inning of work, Sale gave up two more singles, one of which was on a bunt. I’m sure recording any type of hit against a pitcher of Sale’s caliber must be a tremendous thrill for any minor league player but can we not ask our rehabbing ace to chase down a bunt?
Sale struck out the side to work around those two base hits. He started mixing in his slider during that second inning and while it took time to get a feel for it, Sale flashed the filthy form we’re accustomed to seeing from him when he got a batter to chase his slider for a swinging strikeout.
The lefty returned for one more inning, giving up a double but striking out two more batters. His velocity topped out at 94 mph by the end of the outing and his secondary pitches seemed to improve as he got deeper into the game. .
More from Chris Sale
- Red Sox news: Big Winter Meetings updates from Chaim Bloom, Alex Cora
- Red Sox News: Chris Sale exits early after getting hit by line drive
- Red Sox lefty Chris Sale throws a temper tantrum following rehab start
- Red Sox clubhouse is in desperate need of Chris Sale’s return
- Red Sox Injury Update: Chris Sale looks sharp in Double-A rehab start
The final line for Sale was an impressive three innings in which he allowed four hits, no runs or walks and struck out five. Nothing was hit particularly hard against him and his control was sharp. That’s what the Red Sox were hoping to see in this rehab appearance and Sale didn’t disappoint.
The next steps haven’t been entirely mapped out yet but Sale will need several more rehab starts in order to build up his arm strength and pitch count. He’ll presumably spend most of his rehab in Double-A Portland or Triple-A Worcester to keep him in closer proximity to the team’s medical staff.
Assuming each appearance is planned for every fifth day, there’s enough time for Sale to make three more appearances before the end of this month. If he continues to thrive during this assignment, it’s possible that an early-August return to the Red Sox rotation could be feasible. Boston might prefer to take it slow with their rehabbing ace, in which case mid-to-late August would be a more conservative estimate.
Either way, barring a setback, Sale is getting closer to a return to the big league roster. Even against the low-level competition he faced, it’s hard not to be excited about these results.