When Chris Sale returns to the mound for the Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora will feel Opening Day-like optimism.
The Red Sox manager told Sirius XM MLB Network Radio on Tuesday he expects Sale to handle a workload — akin to what he’d bear at the start of a season — when he rejoins Boston’s staff in the coming weeks. Cora said as much in discussing the innings and pitch counts he’d look for Sale to throw upon his return.
“When he gets to the mound, either here or wherever, we expect him (to go) five, six innings, probably like 90 pitches — kind of like the way we do in April, which is great” Cora said. “Eighty-five to 90 pitches from Chris Sale in August and September is a plus. And I’ve been saying all along” ‘We’re the only team in the big leagues that can add Chris Sale.’
Sale’s comeback from Tommy John surgery is gathering steam, as he makes a set of rehab starts in the minor leagues. He next will take the mound Saturday in an outing for the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox and will make at least one more rehab start after that.
Cora discussed Sale’s and the team’s anticipation for the comeback and preached patience at this important moment in time.
“Our medical staff has done an amazing job,” Cora continued. “Chris has been amazing. He made some adjustments nutrition-wise. He looks a lot strong. He’s eager, he’s anxious, but this is the time for us to be a little bit more patient, and stay with the progression. When he’s ready, we know he’s going to contribute.
“That’s what he wanted from the get-go. We talked in spring training, he was like ‘Alex, all I want for when I come back is to pitch meaningful innings.’ So he will pitch meaningful innings, he will contribute, and we’re very excited about that.”
When Sale completes his long-awaited comeback, don’t expect him to throw no-hitters and complete-game shutouts right away, as Cora intends to keep the reins on him as he works his way back to peak sharpness.
However, it will be interesting to watch how Cora handles Sale when the stakes of each meaningful game start to spike.