BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale has been ramping up his rehab and it sounds like he’ll be back to starting games for the Boston Red Sox in the very near future.
But how long those starts last will likely be much shorter than Red Sox fans are used to out of their ace.
The Red Sox hope to get both Sale and fellow lefty starter David Price back during their upcoming nine-game homestand, welcoming the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets to Fenway Park for a trio of three-game sets starting on Friday. Sale has been on the disabled list since Aug. 15 with mild inflammation in his left shoulder and is eligible to be activated on Friday.
Boston manager Alex Cora is optimistic the ace will be back against either the Astros or Blue Jays.
“It’s going to be during the homestand, but we don’t know which series,” Cora said on Sunday. “We’re very positive he should be on the mound soon.”
The catch is the Red Sox could use Sale as an “opener,” sending him out for just two or three innings as he builds up his arm strength and workload ahead of the playoffs. With the Triple-A season ending, the team no longer has the ability to send Sale for rehab outings. But they do have an expanded roster, which gives them a few extra arms at their disposal after Sale’s work is done after those short starts. Of course, their 7.5 game lead in the AL East is also a nice luxury to try some unconventional methods with their recovering ace.
This was Sale’s second trip to the DL with shoulder inflammation since the All-Star break, as the team tries to keep him fresh for October baseball. He threw a bullpen session on Saturday and then threw off flat ground ahead of Sunday’s loss in Chicago, with the expectation that he’ll throw another bullpen sometime over the next few days in Atlanta.
For the season, Sale is 12-4 with an AL-leading 1.97 ERA in 23 starts.
The news is also good on the David Price front, who is also getting closer to a return. The lefty was scratched from Monday’s start against the Braves after a he was hit with a line drive on his pitching wrist during his Wednesday start against the Miami Marlins, but he could also be back in the rotation by the weekend. Price is 14-6 with a 3.60 ERA for Boston.