Everything seemed to go off without a hitch for Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale during his rehab assignment at Double-A Portland on Thursday.
Even Sale felt extremely confident after pitching four innings, allowing four hits and one earned run while walking none and striking out seven against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
“Today went well. Honestly, I was expecting to go back out for the fifth,” Sale told reporters, per MLB.com’s Josh Jackson. “If they told me I was starting (for the Red Sox) five days from now, I would be excited for that. If I can get through five, six innings and be like I was today, I think I’d be ready to go. But my hands are off the wheels.”
Sale, who hasn’t played for the Red Sox yet this season after sustaining a stress fracture in his rib cage in February, threw 36 of his 52 pitches for strikes. The tall left-hander showcased strong velocity to go with that command, touching 96 mph with several other pitches hovering in the mid-90s.
Sale felt he had better stuff in this outing compared to the two rehab assignments he made with the Sea Dogs last year after coming off Tommy John surgery.
“I feel like last year when I was here, I was searching for some stuff,” Sale said, per Jackson. “I was still working on some things. Now, I feel like I’m just starting to sharpen things, just starting to build.”
For Sale — who also had two appearances with the Florida Complex League Red Sox earlier this month — his next destination, whether it’s at Triple-A Worcester, with the Red Sox, or back with Portland is unknown.
But Sale joining the Red Sox certainly feels like it is on the horizon.
“That’s what this whole process is for,” Sale said, according to Jackson. “I love being (in Maine). I love the guys in Worcester. My boys down in Florida — they know I love them. But this whole process is getting back to Boston and do what I need to do … and help that team win.”