Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale throws 1st simulated game in bid for return

BOSTON – Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale threw 32 pitches in a simulated game at Fenway Park on Thursday.

With teammates watching from different areas of the ballpark, Sale, 33, faced the same three batters twice – in two separate innings – and sat in the dugout after the first.

“Good, 94, 95 [mph]. Good changeup, “Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after Sale was done.

Sidelined since spring training after suffering a fracture in his rib cage, Sale could be a huge boost for a Boston rotation that is also missing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi because of a back injury.

But Sale’s health will be a concern once again.

Sale, signed through 2024 in a five-year, $ 145 million deal, is 114-74 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,059 strikeouts over 321 big league appearances. But the seven-time All-Star has thrown just 42⅔ innings for the Red Sox since the end of the 2019 season.

Last season, he went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts in his return from Tommy John surgery, relying mostly on his fastball and slider.

Now, Cora was excited to see this sale’s changeup.

“He was a two-pitch pitcher for a month and a half. That far away from surgery now, this will play. It was a good one,” Cora said. “I don’t know what’s next, we’ll sit down today and map it out.”

Most of Boston’s relievers watched Sale’s throwing session, sitting in the grass in a shallow center field. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts took it in from the dugout with a few teammates, and star third baseman Rafael Devers watched from lower-box seats while chatting with friends.

The media was lined up behind the plate and in the first row along the first-base line.

“We’ve just got to be patient. Everybody’s excited,” Cora said, before joking: “I’ve never seen a live BP with this much coverage in the years I’ve been here.”

After walking off and into the dugout, Sale bumped knuckles with a handful of teammates before heading to the clubhouse. He didn’t speak to the media.