Chris Sale continues to make impressive progress.
The Boston Red Sox ace is in the closing stages of his Tommy John surgery rehab, having now made a pair of rehab starts. He’ll get the ball again Sunday for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
“Chris will pitch (Sunday), and he’s getting close,” Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday afternoon over Zoom.
Cora and Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom have emphasized the value of getting a de facto trade deadline acquisition with the return of Sale.
Judging by Cora’s comments Saturday, it sounds like Sale is insistent on returning in ace form.
“We know he’s going to contribute,” Cora said. “This is not a guy that’s going to come in here and get innings to get ready for next year. This is a guy, he’s on a mission. He loves the fact that these guys have put this team in a situation to compete for the rest of the season, and he wants to be part of it.”
It’s not entirely clear how many more starts are left for Sale before the team deems him ready for big league action — Cora did say Sunday’s outing would not be the final one. But the fact that he’s up to four or five innings suggests that he is getting significantly closer.
The Red Sox are having him arrive to the ballpark late Saturday for the game against the New York Yankees so he can get some extra rest, but the expectation is he won’t miss significant time.
“When I got home (Friday night) he said he was feeling better,” Cora said. “Obviously, he didn’t like what happened, but it happens, right? We’ll know a little but more later on when he shows up. …
“As of now we don’t feel (it will require time on the injured list). Hopefully that’s not the case, but like I said yesterday, we’ll take care of the player first. See how he feels, and we go from there.”
If Rodriguez stays on track, he presumably would pitch next on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.