Alex Cora: Chris Sale Has ‘No Doubt In His Mind,’ As Red Sox Ace’s Rehab Nears Next Step

Here's what Cora learns by talking to Sale

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Chris Sale is poised to get what he wants from the initial phase of his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Tuesday during his appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM Sale has “no doubt in his mind that he’s going to contribute” to the team’s pursuit of success in 2021. Sale, who underwent the operation in March 2020, has throwing bullpen sessions for a few weeks. He’ll take the next step in his rehab Saturday at Fenway Park when he faces batters — albeit in a setting simulated to mimic games — for the first time since his surgery. Although the Red Sox still haven’t announced a return date for Sale, the ace is progressing toward his goal of pitching in meaningful games late in the season.

“He’s actually doing great,” Cora said. “When you talk to him, the way he talks about his next challenge ? which is today or tomorrow whatever he has to do in the weight room (or) in the training room ? he sounds like ? there’s a lot of conviction, there’s no hesitation, there’s no doubt in his mind that he’s going to contribute. And that doesn’t help (in trying) to be patient or (not to be too) excited.”

“But at the same time we knew coming into this season, we had an idea when he was going to contribute here. We didn’t know where we were going to be in the standings. We still don’t know. But one thing for sure, this group has put themselves in a position that when Chris comes (back) we’re going to play meaningful games. That’s all he was asking for, and it seems like we’re going to do that.”

The Red Sox sit atop the AL East with a 1.5-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays. The teams will meet Wednesday at Tropicana Field in their second matchup of a three-game set.

Barring a sudden reversal of fortunes, the Red Sox will play plenty of important games over the remainder of the season. If Sale returns this summer, as he is determined to do, he’ll find himself in the thick of a playoff race.

What more could an ace ask for after such a long layoff?

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