BOSTON -- Red Sox lefty Chris Sale reached a milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday when he took "a few throws off the mound" in Fort Myers, Fla., according to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
"He did get up off a mound today, really more just to get the feel of it," said Bloom. "It was not an extensive throwing session, but at the end of the session this morning, he got up off the mound and threw a few pitches off the mound."
While Sale has thrown thousands of pitches off a mound in his life, this step was meaningful.
"So that is a great milestone for him," said Bloom. "It's the first time he's done that since the surgery. Very light today, but great for Chris, and awesome for the organization."
The Red Sox have been careful not to set a timetable for Sale to return, but Bloom said the goal is still for it to happen in 2021.
"Hopefully," Bloom said. "I think we're getting closer to a point where we can start mapping out a timetable, so I don't have one, but he is progressing. As you guys know, he started throwing with a lot more intensity. Today he got off a mound again and it was pretty light work, but the next step is to get into regular mound work, mound work with some intensity, then we can start thinking about facing hitters and mapping out a game schedule."
It will be a big boost for the Red Sox when Sale starts that game progression.
"Whenever it is, it is," said Bloom. "We have to do it right. The important thing is we're moving forward."
Sale's progression has gone a little slower than originally anticipated due to a neck injury that surfaced in the winter and also a couple of weeks when he was shut down due to COVID-19. Bloom also revealed for the first time Tuesday that Sale dealt with discomfort in his back at one point.
"They were things that, if he were healthy and getting ready for a season, wouldn't be that big of a deal," Bloom said. "They'd be very small disruptions. But when you're looking at getting a throwing program going and proceeding methodically through a Tommy John rehab, they obviously set you back."
Now that the Minor League season is underway, the Red Sox can get a better gauge on how close No. 3 prospect Jarren Duran is to being ready to play in the Majors.
"He's gonna tell us by how he's doing," said Bloom. "It's funny, because obviously we're used to the Minor League season starting around the same time as the Major League season does, and that's obviously not the case this year.
"He's going to be able to take his new swing and his new approach [to the Minors] that we haven't seen tested in affiliated ball yet and take that out against Triple-A competition. And then also for him to continue his progression in the outfield, so I think we're gonna learn a lot.
"We want to make sure we don't try to learn too much from a really small sample, but just having him go through the ups and downs of the season and playing every day and doing it with the various ways that we have to track his performance. We're gonna learn a lot pretty quickly, but at the end of the day, it's up to the player. We have confidence that Jarren is going to go out there and knock that door down, but he'll tell us when he's ready."
Welcome back, Minors
Count Red Sox manager Alex Cora among those thrilled that the Minor Leagues opened up on Tuesday after not having a season in 2020.
"I'm happy for the baseball world," said Cora. "We're going to have Minor League baseball for all those towns that have their teams. It's going to be amazing. For us, as baseball fans, it's a great day. For those kids to be able to compete after 19 months or whatever it is, it has to be great, and I'm happy we're going to have Minor League baseball going on today."
Third baseman Rafael Devers, who experienced right shoulder soreness after taking a swing on Saturday night, was not in the lineup on Tuesday against the Tigers, even after the team had an off-day on Monday.
"We're going to get him one more day," said Cora. "He came in for treatment yesterday for his shoulder. We felt like one more day is going to benefit him, so he's not starting today."
Tuesday was the beginning of a stretch of 13 straight days with a game for the Red Sox. It was also the start of an abbreviated homestand, as the Sox go on the road for a four-game series in Baltimore starting on Friday, and then come back home for a homestand against the Athletics and Angels next week.
Cora and A.J. reunite
Tuesday marked the first time that Cora and A.J. Hinch managed against each other since 2019.
Both managers were suspended for the 2020 season for their role in the '17 sign-stealing scandal with the Houston Astros.
"I'm happy that he's back doing what he does," Cora said of Hinch. "Like I've been saying before, from my end, that's what I can control. There's a lot of people who are happy that I'm managing. There's others that don't agree, but at the end, both of us are back in baseball doing what we love and we have a job to do. It's to take our team to the next level. In their situation, obviously, it's a different one than us, but he's going to be OK."
With Hinch managing the Astros and Cora serving as his bench coach in 2017, Houston won the World Series.