BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale is rejoining the Red Sox in Houston ahead of Tuesday’s Game 3 of the ALCS, but manager Alex Cora wants to give fans a heads up.

There’s a good chance you’ll see Sale throwing in the bullpen in the middle of the game, but it’s not because the lefty is about to pitch against the Astros. After being hospitalized over the weekend with a stomach virus, Boston’s ace needs to put in some work before he takes the mound again.

“If you guys see him throwing during the game, don’t panic. He’s throwing a bullpen. He has to throw a bullpen today,” Cora told reporters in Houston ahead of Game 3 “Like I said [Monday], this is more about the individual than the Red Sox. If he can’t throw a bullpen today he won’t throw it. We have to take care of him first.”

Sale started to get sick after his Game 1 start, and spent Sunday night at Mass General. He was released on Monday and is still tentatively scheduled to start in Thursday night’s Game 5 against the Astros.

“We still think he can do it but, obviously, we have to wait,” said Cora. “I haven’t talked to him today so don’t know how he feels; if he feels weak or whatever. … But if he throws a bullpen, it’s not that we’re bringing him in the game today. OK?”

Cora said lefty Eduardo Rodriguez could get the start if Sale can’t go on Thursday, but added that it may end up being a bullpen day for the Red Sox.

Boston’s Game 4 starter Rick Porcello also had a brief chat with reporters in Houston, and said that Sale’s health is more important than anything else right now, even with the ALCS tied at 1-1. But now that everyone knows that Sale is OK, he’d like to know when the Sox will have their ace on the mound again.

“These are some of the biggest games of our lives but if someone goes to the hospital, we just care about his well-being. … Now that we know he’s OK, when the hell is he going to pitch,” Porcello asked jokingly.

Sale lasted just four innings in his Game 1 start on Saturday night. He allowed just one hit but uncharacteristically walked four batters and hit another. A pair of walks and that HBP in the second inning led to the only two runs the Astros would score off the lefty in their 7-2 victory.

Boston’s ace has not been himself since late July, missing most of the second half of the season with shoulder inflammation. Sale finished the regular season 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, and is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA in three postseason appearances.

 

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