By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale was back in the bullpen at Fenway Park on Tuesday for the first time since 2019. He remains a ways away from rejoining the Red Sox rotation, but he’s inching closer and closer to a return.

Boston manager Alex Cora said that Sale threw 25 pitches during his bullpen session, mixing his fastball, changeup and slider. It was the kind of throwing session that pitchers do around January, but Cora said that the results are promising.

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“Physically, he looks a lot stronger than he did two years ago,” said Cora.

But the Red Sox will remain patient with Sale, not wanting to rush him back from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last summer. But for Sale, just being back at Fenway Park is a sure sign that he is getting there.

“Throwing bullpens in Florida was nice, and I was able to spend time with my family and focus on what I needed to do for myself and body. But being here the energy is higher,” the lefty said Tuesday. “There’s a sense of urgency when I’m here. There’s nothing like stepping on that field, even at 3 p.m. in the afternoon.”

Having the same patience as the team has been one of the more difficult aspects of rehab for Sale. He joked with Cora that he would like to be in the rotation — and lineup — a few weeks from now when the Sox take on the Braves in Atlanta. Obviously, that will not happen, as Sale hasn’t yet thrown to live batters.

“This is the hardest challenge I’ve ever had in my life. The train has been moving for 25 years of my life, and this is the first time it has actually stopped,” said Sale. “There was an adjustment period and I had to lock it in and be focused on what the goal at the time is. At the beginning of this, in the middle of it, I set my sights a little too far and things started rolling on me a little bit. Rehab is different for everybody and I don’t think anyone will say it’s all rainbows and butterflies. You take each day and roll with the next one.

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“I’ve put myself in the best position. I’ve had a lot of help through the process, and I’ve been very pleased with what has been going on and where I’m at, and what has happened,” he added.

Sale has been impressed with the Boston rotation so far this year, and has joked that he may not have a spot when he does return. He did say that he’d be willing to help the team out of the bullpen if that’s how they want to build up his strength, but that hasn’t been a discussion they’ve had just yet.

But as he rounds the bases on his return, Sale is absolutely confident that he’ll be throwing pitches for the Red Sox this season.

“Oh yeah, 100 percent. Unless something (knocks on wood) crazy happens, I’ll be there soon enough,” said Sale.


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