Sale expects return 'sooner rather than later'

July 1st, 2021

BOSTON -- The slow-play portion of ’s rehab from Tommy John surgery is over. The ace is now full-speed ahead and plans on pitching for the Red Sox “sooner rather than later."

Given that Sale still has a Minor League rehab assignment in front of him, a return in August seems most likely, though the Red Sox haven’t put a timetable on it.

The good news is that the ace sounded as animated when he spoke Thursday as he looked when he pitched live BP on Wednesday, hitting the mid 90s on the radar gun while mixing in his offspeed stuff.

So when does Sale think he will be back?

“As soon as possible,” Sale said. “Yesterday was a good day, another step in the right direction. You know, I came in today feeling really, really good. Was able to move my arm around. Soreness in all the good spots. Got to keep trucking forward.”

And about that upcoming rehab assignment, Sale hopes to rejoin a contending Red Sox team soon enough to make an impact on the pennant race.

“This is really my first time going through anything like this, so I wouldn’t assume it’s going to be a whole lot,” said Sale. “I mean, I don’t think I need like seven [rehab] starts. If we keep having days like I had yesterday, I would say sooner rather than later. I also know not to get too far ahead of myself in this process. But I’m feeling good. I know that if I keep doing what I’m doing, it will be quicker than not.”

Sale thinks being around the Red Sox for his last two BP sessions has been highly beneficial. From teammates Adam Ottavino and Eduardo Rodriguez to manager Alex Cora, pitching coach Dave Bush, assistant pitching coach Kevin Walker and game-planning coordinator Jason Varitek, Sale has had a lot of eyes on him from a close vantage point.

“The biggest thing for me is the feedback,” said Sale. “Otto and Eddie and a couple of the other guys have seen me throw, and Bushy, they’re literally right behind me watching. Tek, AC, a handful of other people, Walk watching me behind the catcher. And I have two of my teammates in the box facing me and Plawecki behind the plate, so I have a lot of different angles and a lot of people watching me do this."

The Red Sox also have the Statcast technology set up at the ballpark to track all of the metrics on his pitches.

“I do appreciate the numbers and some of the stuff that comes with that, but the velocity for me isn’t a big thing right now,” said Sale. “When I get into my rehab games, I’ll want to see what I’m carrying for a bolt, what I’m topping out at, what the low points are and stuff like that.

“But right now, just the appearance, what it looks like coming out of my hand, how it feels coming out of my hand, and the next day waking up, how’s this thing rolling? I appreciate everything. There’s a lot of guys helping me out in his process. Everybody in this clubhouse, in one way, shape or form has made me better on a day. And I can’t be thankful enough for that.”

For most of the last 15 months, Sale was in rehab mode. Now, he is completely in the mindset of being a pitcher again. He is about to feel the rewards of all the monotony.

“It’s definitely a grind. As mental as it is physical, but I’m hopefully on the back end of this now,” Sale said. “It’s not a fun process. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about my body and pitching and all that stuff. I definitely wouldn’t want to have to do that again.”

Starting for the Red Sox again in the not-too-distant future is what has him fired up.

“I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but it is an exciting thought,” said Sale. “I do know when I do get back here and we start rolling and getting back into games and stuff like that, I’ll be ready to go, that’s for sure.”