Sale slated to start Saturday vs. Orioles

August 8th, 2021

It’s been nearly two years since last toed the rubber at Fenway Park, but his long-awaited return has finally arrived.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora kept the announcement short prior to Boston's finale in Toronto on Sunday, knowing what it meant to have the left-hander back in the starting rotation: “Chris is going to start on Saturday for us.”

Sale, who had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in March 2020, will return to the Red Sox's rotation next Saturday against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

The southpaw will make the start on six days' rest, following his final rehab start with Triple-A Worcester on Saturday. He began his rehab assignment on July 15 with the Rookie-level FCL Red Sox and progressed through Double-A Portland and Triple-A. He had a 1.35 ERA and recorded 35 strikeouts in five rehab starts in the Minors.

“For how much we trust him and we rely on him, the adrenaline and everything that is gonna go on Saturday is gonna be a lot different than a rehab start,” Cora said. “So [to] give him an extra rest [day] going into that one, it makes sense.”

In Saturday's rehab outing against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Sale allowed two hits and three walks over 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out eight.

“I felt like what I did tonight, I could have gone and done that in a big league game. I would say my last two starts, I’ve felt normal,” Sale told reporters following Saturday’s game.

“I talked to him today; he feels great. If it was up to him, I think if it was his choice, it [would be] the 13th," Cora said. “That was his last start, too. So, Friday night, Friday the 13th, Chris Sale. ... But it's OK, one more day doesn't matter.

“I do believe it's more about preparing him this week for that and for the future. We got Monday off, Thursday off, so we'll plan accordingly. We've got the doubleheader, too. I think it makes sense for everything that we're trying to map out and trying to accomplish. It's best for him that day.”

As Cora mentioned, Sale's last big league start was on Aug. 13, 2019. Four days later, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. He had Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020, which was also his 31st birthday.

“I’m thrilled with what happened today," said Sale. "I had fun. I loved it. I’m just appreciative that I can do that again. And I’ll show up tomorrow and do what I got to do then and whenever I throw next is whenever I throw next.”