When it comes to Chris Sale’s continued rehab, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said it best Wednesday: “So far, so good.”
Sale took another step toward returning to the Fenway Park pitching mound on Tuesday night when he made his second rehab start while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The left-hander looked very good, pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out six of the batters he faced.
In his weekly radio interview with WEEI-FM, Cora reported Sale feels “great” after his latest outing. The big club got an impromptu off-day because of rain in Buffalo, and that allowed Cora — and everyone else — to take in Sale’s start for Double-A Portland.
“He was all over the clubhouse. We had four TVs with the game on, a lot of people very excited,” Cora said Wednesday afternoon on WEEI. “He looked really good, let’s be honest. The fastball velocity, the slider was good, I think he was under control and that was a good step toward what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Sale will stay in Portland to do his day-after work before joining the Sox for their weekend series against the New York Yankees. Cora said Sale is in line to pitch again Sunday. The hope is he can continue to progress up the minor league ranks, but Triple-A Worcester is on the road through the weekend, so a return trip to Portland looks like the play.
Cora explained, though, why it’s important for Sale to get some work at the highest minor league level before returning to Boston.
“The levels matter not because of the competition but actually what’s behind him — guys making plays, obviously the quality of at-bats will be better … and nothing against our young guys, defense is a lot better obviously,” Cora added. “The catchers know Chris a little more. It’s closer to what he’s gonna have here when he joins us.”
It’s still too early to know when Sale will be back pitching for the first-place Red Sox, but it’s clear that date is rapidly approaching.