Red Sox News: Chris Sale to begin rehab assignment on Monday

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 14: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox warms up before a game against the Oakland Athletics on June 14, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 14: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox warms up before a game against the Oakland Athletics on June 14, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Chris Sale continues to march toward Red Sox return

We got an injury update on Chris Sale yesterday afternoon and it’s one that should get Red Sox Nation excited. The big lefty from Lakeland, Florida is about to start his rehab assignment next week and the clock is now ticking. Sale flew through his rehab work last season on his way back from TJS and I have zero doubts that he’ll take this turn any slower.

Christopher Smith of Masslive.com reported yesterday that Sale would be making his first rehab start in the Florida Complex League on Monday. The southpaw has been tossing bullpen sessions and batting practice and now it’s time to get him back to the real thing. He spoke to the media recently and made his intentions clear, he’s coming back to work. He doesn’t care where the Red Sox use him he just wants to contribute to the team.

This return from injury has me more optimistic than his last go-around for one simple reason, he has his changeup. When he returned from TJS last season he had his fastball and slider, his two best pitches, but couldn’t find his changeup. Not having that third pitch to offset the other two made things a bit easy for the opposing batters.

Sale was still able to be effective but it didn’t take long for lineups to figure out what was coming their way. Now he’ll be coming back to the Red Sox with a full arsenal and can be a serious second-half weapon for Alex Cora to call on. The Boston skipper mentioned that having that third pitch is going to be the difference in what Sale can do compared to 2021.

"“I think that’s the difference between last year and this year,” Cora said. “He was a two-pitch pitcher for a month and a half. This year, obviously being that far away from the surgery now, this will play.”"

Many will want him to return to the starting rotation, and that makes perfect sense. For a period of time, he was one of the best starters in the game, and considering what the Red Sox are paying him, you want to get the most out of him. The thing is, he has been the definition of injury-prone over the last few seasons and I don’t know if pushing him back to the rotation for a half-season is really the best plan of attack.

Smith mentions the increase and people clamoring for Sale to be a bullpen piece when he returns and that’s the camp that I’m in. The Red Sox need a closer in a bad way and while they have some options, putting Sale in that position could be one hell of a move by Cora and Chaim Bloom. Both myself and BSI’s own Sean Penney have pitched the idea for The Condor to be Boston’s ninth-inning guy and it just makes sense all things considered.

I think the southpaw could return to the rotation next season as the Red Sox will be losing Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, and Michael Wacha. So they’ll more than need him to make his return to the starting ranks but there’s no reason to rush him back into that position with little time left in the season by the time he returns. For 2022, bring him back in the bullpen and let him shake off the rust with a lighter workload.

If the Red Sox want to contend in the second half they absolutely must have a closer. They can’t continue skating with this strategy of a different guy every night. Some arms have set themselves apart in the trust tree for Cora but he still needs to have that one guy that he can call on when the game is on the line.

That guy can be Sale, and I really don’t think it’d be that crazy of an idea. Time will tell what he has in the tank for this season and that all begins on Monday in Florida. No matter the role he takes on, it’s going to be damn good to have him back in the dugout and on the mound.

Next. Just how good is Alex Cora?. dark