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Sale 'in good spirits,' but no timetable for return

August 21, 2018

BOSTON -- The Red Sox haven't initiated a throwing program yet for ace Chris Sale, who is on the disabled list for the second time in the span of a month with mild inflammation in his left shoulder. But there is some progress being made behind the scenes."He's working out,

BOSTON -- The Red Sox haven't initiated a throwing program yet for ace Chris Sale, who is on the disabled list for the second time in the span of a month with mild inflammation in his left shoulder. But there is some progress being made behind the scenes.
"He's working out, getting treatment. He hasn't thrown yet, but he's in good spirits," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I talked to him a little bit before our meeting today and he's feeling good."
Though Sale is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday, it's clear that won't happen. Cora acknowledged that Hector Velazquez will again fill Sale's spot in the rotation on Friday as long as he isn't needed in relief on Thursday.
There are certain benchmarks Sale must hit before he resumes throwing, let alone starting a game.
"All the strength tests that they're doing. Like I said, we're not going to push him," Cora said. "We're not shooting for Sunday or Friday or whenever. We're shooting for whenever he's ready. So as of now, he's going through all these exercises and, obviously, the inflammation has to go, getting treatment. Whenever he's ready to go out there and play catch, he's ready.
"It's not [just] that he's going to go out there and feel it a little bit and the next day it'll be better. What we're trying to accomplish here is for him to be pain free and then just go from there."
E-Rod dazzles in rehab start
While the Red Sox were facing the Indians, lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez took a big step in his eventual return by turning in four dominant innings in the start of a Minor League rehab assignment for Double-A Portland on Monday.
Rodriguez allowed one hit over four shutout innings, walking two and striking out eight. Of his 63 pitches, 39 were for strikes.

"Yes, we were just talking about it," said Cora. "Good stuff. I think the cutter was outstanding. I think he only had one opportunity to cover or back up or something like that. So he'll come back and we'll go through [pitchers fielding practice], and the plan is for him to probably go another one and we'll go from there. Obviously we have to wait to see how he reacts to this one, but everything I heard down there just now he was outstanding."
It was the first game action for Rodriguez since he severely sprained his left ankle on July 14 at Fenway.
Vazquez ramping up rehab program
Catcher Christian Vazquez, who broke his right pinkie finger on a headfirst slide July 8, is starting to build momentum toward a comeback.
"Yeah, actually, Christian is hitting soft toss already," said Cora. "He's catching bullpen [sessions]. He's been throwing. He's feeling better. I think, obviously the hitting the part is going to be a tough part He already went through the tee work. Now he's progressing to soft toss. Hopefully at the end of the week he can hit off an arm and we go from there."

It's safe to say Vazquez won't be activated until September. In fact, the hope is that he gets through all the rehab he needs to in order to play in some Minor League games before returning to the Red Sox. The Minor League regular season ends on Sept. 3.
"That's the goal," Cora said. "I think we have two teams that are in the mix, Greenville and Lowell, they have a chance to extend their season. We'll see. There's always Fort Myers, [Fla.]. Hopefully he can do that."
During Vazquez's absence, the Red Sox have continued the winning tear they've been on for much of the season. That only increases his determination to re-enter the mix.
"Very hard [for Vazquez]," said Cora. "He's been going back and forth and going to Fort Myers and here. He sits there [in the meetings] and he helps me out. Don't get me wrong. He's part of the scouting reports and all that, but it has to be hard."
In Vazquez's absence, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart have handled the catching duties.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.