By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale’s next stop on his path back to the big leagues will be in Portland.

The left-hander will head up to Maine next week to pitch for the Double-A Sea Dogs, when they host the Harrisburg Senators at Hadlock Field.

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Red Sox manager Alex Cora shared that news when speaking to the media on Friday, ahead of Boston’s series opener vs. the Yankees in New York.

In terms of a return to the majors, Cora said the team plans on waiting until Sale can pitch five innings in a rehab start before making his first MLB start since 2019.

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Sale, 32, underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, missing the entirety of the 2020 season and the first half of 2021. He threw three innings in a rehab outing in the FCL (formerly the Gulf Coast League) on Thursday, as he slowly but steadily makes progress toward his return.

“Really good. I texted with him this morning. He felt really good physically, he played toss today, so everything went well,” Cora said. “He’s really excited, like I said yesterday. The way he’s been able to bounce back on a daily basis is something that — it’s not that he’s surprised, but he’s made some adjustments as far as his nutrition and his workouts and all of that. Actually, he’s a lot stronger now than what he was a few years ago, and it’s paying off. And he’s very excited with that.”

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The Red Sox’ start to the unofficial second half of the season was delayed, after the Yankees had multiple players test positive for COVID-19 ahead of Thursday’s scheduled series opener, leading to a postponement. The Red Sox entered Friday with a 1.5-game lead over the Rays for first place in the division.

CBSBoston.com Staff