Red Sox notes: Ron Roenicke updates status of Chris Sale, Alex Verdugo

Nick Friar
February 15, 2020 - 5:29 pm

Chris Sale arrived at Red Sox spring training late on Friday and was able to get some throwing in. He did so again on Saturday and worked out with his teammates, as well.

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But Sale is still dealing with the side effects of his illness – which turned into a “mild case” of pneumonia.

“He still doesn’t have full strength back,” Ron Roenicke said on Saturday. “He played catch today. Stretched it out. He also did that yesterday. So I think he’s progressing along fine. We’re going to still go a little bit easy with him.”

Even though everything “baseball-wise” is good with Sale — it’s just a matter of recovering from his illness — the Red Sox aren’t setting a timeline for his progressions yet.

“Whenever we can get him to start up — it would be silly for us to try to push him to come back sooner than probably he should physically,” Roenicke said. “It’s not worth taking a risk on having him Opening Day exactly and where we’re pushing him to get him there. He’s important to us as we go through the season and, hopefully, get into the playoffs and keep him strong there. To push anyone nowadays, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to any of us.”

Roenicke was told Sale threw around five bullpens in the offseason, some with “pretty good energy.”

The Red Sox will re-evaluate Sale’s strength throughout the course of spring training.

—The Red Sox have diagnosed Alex Verdugo with a stress fracture in his lower back. The team doesn’t know how it happened, though they know Verdugo started feeling pain in his back when he was dealing with his preceding oblique issue.

“It’s healing nice and the images he has taken through the offseason (show) it continues to heal,” Roenicke said. “It’s not healed completely. But it’s in a progression where they’re really liking how it’s coming along. It’s an injury that takes time. It takes a lot of time for this to heal. It’s an injury that’s fairly common in baseball because it’s a rotation issue. Our trainers are familiar with it. ...  We’ll just take him as the steps come, how — not only what the images show, but his response to things.”

Roenicke said surgery won’t be required based on the imaging that was done on Friday. Verdugo is taking part in limited physical activity, mainly in the training room.

He will be re-evaluated in “a few days or a week,” but will not be ready to play in Boston’s first spring training game.

“If everything goes right, he still may not be ready for Opening Day,” Roenicke said.

Related: Alex Verdugo addresses his controversial past in introductory Red Sox press conference