Chris Sale is trying not to get too far ahead of himself, but the Boston Red Sox ace can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sale continues to make positive steps in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. He reached another milestone Wednesday with another live batting practice session at Fenway Park. Manager Alex Cora indicated a rehab assignment is rapidly approaching.
The Red Sox are officially halfway through the season, and even without one of the best pitchers in baseball, they are on a 100-win pace. Getting a healthy Sale back in the mix could be a game-changer. If he looks anything like he did when healthy, the Red Sox could go from very good to legitimate title contenders.
“That’s the plan,” Sale said Thursday in a video call with reporters. “Our staff has done a helluva job up to this point. … These guys have been holding it down unbelievably well. We wouldn’t be in the position we are. We’ve got the best offense in baseball, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve gotta throw the ball, too, and our guys have done an unbelievable job of keeping us in games and putting big starts up when we need it. For me, I’ve just gotta come in and do my job and continue that body of work they’ve been doing the whole year.”
The return from Tommy John is an arduous process, with as much mental anguish as physical pain. Sale has acknowledged those ups and downs. He also knows that with more good days like Wednesday, he’ll be back on the mound at Fenway — pitching to actual big league opponents — sooner than later.
He’s not letting himself get too far down that road — yet.
“It’s going to be hard not to think about that stuff, but I can’t go there right now,” he said. “I can’t. I’ve gotta focus on what I’ve got today, crush it, come in tomorrow, same thing.”