Sale on first day of camp: 'I feel great now'

February 18th, 2021

On the first day of Spring Training, was in uniform and not doing monotonous rehab drills Thursday.

And that, in itself, was a victory for the ace lefty who is on the road back from Tommy John surgery and should pitch for the Red Sox at some point this summer.

"So far, so good," said Sale. "We're back rolling. Good to be back in Spring Training doing some baseball stuff. As of now, I'm full go."

Well, not exactly full go. Sale hasn't been cleared to throw off a mound yet and it will be months before he pitches a game for the Red Sox.

But in the grand scheme of things, after missing a full baseball season for the first time in his life, Sale is pleased with where he's at and where he knows that he's headed.

"I'm not looking at a month from now, two months from now, even a season," said Sale. "I can't. That wouldn't be fair to myself or my teammates or anybody involved in that process. The mound comes when it comes. Like I said, I take it a day at a time and I'm doing everything I can to get back out there as soon as I can."

The methodical process doesn't bore Sale. It keeps him focused. There have been a couple of annoyances along the way for Sale. He had COVID-19 a few weeks back, but he called it a " very mild case" and he was able to get his work in at his home. And more recently, Sale dealt with a neck issue that slightly delayed his throwing.

Now though, all is well in his world.

"Absolutely," said Sale. "I feel great now. We had a little hiccup with the neck. I guess the silver lining through all of this is my elbow has been on track since Day 1. Nothing off track with that. That's been kind of steady throughout the whole process. We dealt with the neck thing a little bit and we're back on track."

Sale knows that the Red Sox are mindful of the long term and, if anything, are going to be conservative rather than aggressive when it comes to his timetable. Though he is as relentless as a competitor as you will find, Sale understands that's how it has to be.

"That's why I have to have the mindset that I have and not get wrapped up in the process or timetables or anything like that. I basically don't have any power in this process," said Sale. "I show up and I do my work, and there's going to be a day when I'm throwing on flat ground. And I know if everything goes as planned, 'All right, we're going to go to the mound.' And when that happens, we do it. And so on and so forth through this process."

After a summer of isolation at the team's Spring Training base in Fort Myers, Fla, Sale is just grateful to have company again. Even PFPs are fun at this stage.

"I know I keep saying it, but I was here by myself the whole summer, so it's nice to get back, have people around and feel like a ballplayer again," said Sale. "I've been doing this a while and I've never been more excited for Spring Training, doing PFPs, running. Just feeling normal again."

Once Sale is able to get back into the rotation, things should finally start to normalize for the Red Sox again.

Not a lot has gone right for the franchise since they held up the Commissioner's Trophy on that warm night in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2018.

But Sale, who is signed with the Sox for another four years, is optimistic about where his team is headed.

In his 24-minute session with reporters, Sale touched on a variety of team-wide issues. Here is a sampling.

On the offseason additions and subtractions
"They have a job to do," said Sale. "There's some different faces in the clubhouse how, roster turnover, some coaching staff turnover," said Sale. "It's part of the game. You deal with it and move on. We have some talented guys in that clubhouse -- great training staff, great front office, unbelievable coaching staff. With all of that collection, we plan on going and making some noise this year."

On the return of manager Alex Cora
"It was like he never left for me," said Sale. "I stayed in contact with him throughout all of last year, all of last offseason, and I didn't play last year. It's awesome. I know what he brings to the table. You guys know what he brings to the table. Our players, our fans know what he brings to the table. We're excited about it. I think having him back is a key part to this whole thing moving forward more smoothy, faster, and as a unit it's going to be better."

On the return of Eduardo Rodriguez, who missed all of last season with a heart condition
"E-Rod's looking good," said Sale. "He was one of the guys I was glad to get back around and be around and watch. He sent us some videos of him working out in the offseason. He looks good. He looks ready. Obviously unfortunate what happened last year, but I think he used that. I think he's picked up some momentum. He looks good and you can tell the determination is there. I'm excited to watch him pitch this year for sure."

On having a similar delivery as highly touted prospect Tanner Houck
"He's someone I'm interested to know better and talk with baseball and pick his brain a little bit," said Sale. "On his end, he's in a good spot. He did what he could've done to help this team win games and get his career off on the right foot. And it's just building. I'm a firm believer you want to build off what you've done in the past, but you've got to go forward, too. That's going to be the fun part, watching him continue to have success and build off that. And hopefully we'll be in the same rotation soon enough."

On the team needing to improve its mentality
"Just being tough again on and off the field, mentally and physically," he said. "I think that we have a young team, our pitching staff has gone through kind of a transformation. Just keeping the same philosophies of going out there and pitching with conviction and having some heart. Like I said, we have some very talented guys. I was just out there right before I came here and I was watching some bullpens. We have some guys. We have the arsenal, so it's just about putting it together and doing it collectively as a group."