Chris Sale is preparing to make his Boston Red Sox return.
No, it won’t be his first return. In fact, it feels like gearing up for a return is all that Sale has done over the past few seasons. This one just feels different.
Sale’s start against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park will mark just his 12th regular season appearance in the last three seasons. Though he would have been ready to make an Opening Day start, Red Sox manager Alex Cora elected to set Sale up for a day off during the festivities to prepare for the second game of the season.
Things didn’t go Boston’s way with Sale in the dugout, but the 34-year-old provided a calming message following the loss.
“Tell everyone that I love them and that I’ll be ready,” Sale said as he departed the Red Sox clubhouse Thursday, per Alex Speier of The Boston Globe.
No matter what the initial on-field performance ends up being, the fact that Sale feels ready to go is enough to spark hope amongst Red Sox Nation.
Sale made Opening Day starts for Boston in 2018 and 2019 but has been sidelined with injuries as the Red Sox opened each season since. In 2020 and 2021, it was Tommy John surgery that kept him from being able to contribute from the jump. In 2022, it was a rib fracture that forced him onto the 60-day injured list during spring training. Now, he’s ready and rearing to go.
“This was the first spring training where he’s actually pitched for me,” Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush, who is in his fourth season with the organization, told Speier. “We laughed about it in the spring, but it’s been that long since he started here healthy.”
Who knows what kind of pitcher Sale will be once he does return. The velocity has varied, while results have been shaky at best. The seven-time All-Star has even poked fun at himself for his spring training misfortunes, but there is one point of view keeping hope alive.
“He said (his body) is 34 and (his arm) is 31 because he hasn’t pitched in three years,” Boston manager Alex Cora. “I’ll take his word.”