Sale's rib healing well, feels 'night and day'

JBJ tumbles into 'pen attempting catch; Barnes' velo still 'not there'

April 6th, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- An upbeat Chris Sale has noticed a huge difference in recent days as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right rib cage that he sustained while pitching during the lockout.

“Night and day,” said Sale on Saturday. “I can run. I can jump. I can twist. I can start doing some things. There is nothing going on with the muscle. It’s just the bone, which is a good thing. But you have to make sure the muscles don’t do something before the bone is ready to handle it.

“They attach. This pulls on this. And if this pulls too much, it can be irritated or do something to it. Dotting the I’s, crossing the T’s, making sure we’re exactly where we need to be -- not around where we need to be, and do this thing the right way and go with it.”

Boston’s lefty ace underwent a follow-up MRI on Thursday, and the Red Sox's medical staff interpreted the results to him on Friday.

“It said the bone is healing, everything is shrinking,” said Sale. “The edema is going away. So, yeah, good news.”

The timetable for Sale’s return to the Red Sox is dependent on when he can start a throwing program. Does the stress fracture have to be completely healed before Sale can play catch?

“That’s something I don’t know. I’m not 100 percent [sure],” said Sale. “The way I feel right now, I feel like I could go throw today and be alright. But there is a difference between going out and throwing and being alright, and going out and throwing and being great. I think that’s along the lines of what they want me to be before we start doing this.”

JBJ misses theft, but goes deep
Jackie Bradley Jr. found himself in the Boston bullpen while unsuccessfully trying to rob a home run from Pirates shortstop Diego Castillo in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game.

In his next at-bat, he swatted his second home run of Spring Training. Coming off the worst season of his career offensively, Bradley has been swinging the bat better during the latter part of the spring.

“Jackie’s gonna play against righties,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He's not gonna get many at-bats against lefties unless we're leading in the game and we need his defense in the outfield. But I do believe, compared to where he was early in spring, where he's at right now, it's good. 

“[Hitting coach] Pete [Fatse], and the group, they've been working hard with him on a few things. I think at the end of the day, it’s just, get ready on time so you’re able to recognize and make sound decisions. I think so far he's been solid.”

Next up for Nate? Yankee Stadium
Righty Nathan Eovaldi stretched out to 5 2/3 innings in Saturday afternoon’s 7-2 loss to the Pirates, allowing three earned runs while walking none and striking out seven.

Up next? A start against the Yankees for Opening Day on Friday.

“Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this start for the last week or two,” Eovaldi said. “So it’s just [a matter of], try not to jump too far ahead, and now I’m past this last start of Spring Training so it’s full go, lock in on the Yankees, and be ready to go.”

Lack of velocity from Barnes a concern
If there is one area of the Red Sox that looks unsettled heading into the season, it is the bullpen. Cora has yet to reveal who his closer will be when the season starts.

Matt Barnes is hoping to win back the ninth inning after pitching himself out of that role down the stretch last year. But the righty’s fastball has mainly been in the 92-93 mph range this spring, and that continued on Saturday, when he allowed a run on two hits in one inning.

“I mean, the velo’s not there. We see it. It's 92-93,” Cora said. “Right now, I don't know if it’s his mechanics or the short spring, but last year, from the get-go, the velo was there. His first outing, he was throwing 96-97. I think maybe he’s hit 95 a few times, but he's been inconsistent with the velocity.”

“He has two more [outings in Spring Training] if I'm not mistaken. Hopefully his velo picks up before we get [to Opening Day], because that was a game-changer last year -- velo and attacking. So we’ll take a look at it and keep working with him. That's something that caught my attention today.

“Today's, what, the third or fourth [appearance]? You saw the kids throwing 95-96. We’re in the stage of the spring, regardless of where we’re at, 19 days, 20 days, whatever, we’re almost there, and we need to get going.”