But it also marked the end of a chapter.
Sale underwent the surgery in March 2020 and has been rehabbing ever since. By starting Saturday’s game, he officially has closed the book on his era of being a sidelined pitcher recovering from Tommy John. He’s just a big league pitcher once again. No more rehab starts, no worrying every day about a setback. He’s just Chris Sale the Boston Red Sox ace once again.
“This was the end of the road, basically,” Sale said Saturday evening over Zoom. “I said it today when I got to the field: ‘I’m done driving on the dirt road, the rubber is meeting the asphalt today.”
It helped that Sale got a favorable result.
He lasted five innings, throwing 89 pitches. The southpaw surrendered just two runs on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. The Red Sox offense backed him up, and the end result was a 16-2 Boston victory. He’ll go through the usual progressions now and is penciled in to start Friday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers.
So, indeed, the proverbial rubber has met the road.