After Chris Sale threw two innings of live batting practice on Wednesday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora called the performance “eye-opening.”
Sale reached the mid-90s with his fastball, but more important — and most surprising — to Cora was Sale’s command at this stage.
“He was able to throw fastballs inside, fastballs arm-side up and away to put people away,” Cora said. “The changeup was good, the slider was good. Throughout the process, I do believe that that’s kind of like the last thing you get — the changeup and command. And for him to be dotting pitches already, it’s a great sign.”
Per Cora, Sale — who underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2020 — could be headed for rehab starts as early as next week, although that isn’t guaranteed.
“He already is making an impact in the clubhouse,” Cora said. “Just his mere presence. His communication with other guys is helping.”
On Tuesday, Cora told reporters the most important test is how Sale feels after his rehab work.
The early results have been encouraging.
“So far in between that live [batting practice] up to now he’s feeling amazing,” Cora said prior to the Red Sox’s win over the Royals on Tuesday — the team’s fifth victory in a row.
Christian Arroyo told the Boston Globe that the outing looked like “classic Chris Sale.”
“Changeup is biting as usual,” Arroyo said. “He’s still got that dirty slider that he’s always thrown. It’s coming in zippy. He looks really good. I know we’re excited to have him back soon. …
“He’s a difference-maker. He has been since he stepped foot on a major-league field. His stuff looked good. Not good, his stuff looked great, with command.”
Cora reiterated to reporters that Sale certainly will not be traded, although the Red Sox expect offers.
“This is a guy, he’s looking forward to contribute,” Cora said. “He’s in a great frame of mind. Physically, he looks tremendous.”
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