CHICAGO -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale intensified his throwing program Friday, long-tossing and throwing from flat ground for the fifth consecutive day.
Though he still hasn't pitched from a mound, Sale said he was able to throw downhill for the first time. Sale's next step will likely be live batting practice and a shorter start at the big league level, as a Minor League rehab assignment might not be feasible with the Triple-A season ending Monday.
"We are past all the little bumps in the road, so we are just strengthening now and building up to be able to make a start in the big leagues," Sale said. "I think we are over that hump of, 'How does it feel?' Stiffness, soreness."
Sale wants to remain focused on one day at a time, but acknowledged he could return to the mound soon.
"I have basically said I don't want to know," Sale said. "I show up every day and say 'Hey, what are we doing? We are doing this today,' so I just go and do it. I'm not worried about tomorrow until we get done with what we need to do today."
With the five-day catch program complete, Sale will take Saturday off to rest, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. Given the amount of progress he's made, Sale could be in line to make multiple starts in the regular season.
"It looks like the way he's going right now, whenever he gets on the mound, it's gonna move fairly quick," Cora said. "We're gonna have to do it at the big league level. If everything goes right, he'll be able to build up, and we'll be very comfortable with him."
Sale has made just one August start and is on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation for the second time this month. His DL stint is different this time around because he's had more time to recover, Sale said.
"We still have to be very disciplined," Cora said. "But he's getting itchy. He's feeling good, he's throwing. He can see the light now."
Price won't start in Atlanta
David Price had aimed to make his scheduled start Monday in Atlanta after getting hit in the wrist with a comebacker on Wednesday, but he hasn't thrown since then and it appears he will miss the entire Atlanta series, Cora said.
"I haven't sat down with him yet, but [head athletic trainer Brad Pearson] told me [Price] was still sore," Cora said. "Feeling better, but I don't think he's going to be ready for that one, and if he's not ready for that one, we'll push him back."
Price will stay with the team when it travels, Cora said. The left-hander exited Wednesday's win over the Marlins in the fourth inning, and had expressed excitement about hitting in a National League park. Monday's starter remains up in the air.
Minor Leaguer suspended for PEDs
Class A Lowell catcher Alberto Schmidt received a 76-game suspension for a positive PED test, MLB announced Friday. Schmidt tested positive for stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance banned as part of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Red Sox to call up five, activate three
Rosters are set to expand to 40 prior to Saturday's game, and the Red Sox will fill eight of their 15 extra slots.
Vazquez, who was scheduled to arrive in Chicago some time Friday night, underwent surgery on his right pinkie July 10. Wright finished his rehab assignment after throwing two innings Friday. He went on the disabled list on June 26 with left knee inflammation.