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Red Sox' plan for Chris Sale comes into focus

Rob Bradford
September 11, 2018 - 5:11 pm

The true test for Chris Sale will most likely not come Tuesday night, but rather as the week unfolds.

That's how it worked last time the Red Sox tried integrating him back into the rotation. Pitching those five innings against Baltimore on Aug. 12? No problems. Even the day after his start it looked like all systems were good to go in terms of putting his left shoulder tendonitis in the rearview mirror. Then came Day No. 2, and 3.

"I think it was more the second or third day that he wasn’t able to ... he was able to play catch, but not as usual," remembered Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It took him longer to recover. That’s what we’re going to take a look at but obviously, we have to wait until (Wednesday) and Thursday. The way he feels, he should be fine."

The plan if everything does go swimmingly in the coming days is for Sale to pitch Sunday in the series finale against the Mets at Fenway Park, with Rick Porcello slotting in front of him Saturday. Like Sale, Porcello's start figures to be abbreviated with the righty not pitching again until the following weekend in Cleveland.

"We’ve been thinking about this the whole time," Cora said. "We did it halfway through the first half, too. It helped us out. It seemed like those guys were very fresh after the All-Star break. That’s what we’re shooting for and hopefully, it’ll work for us."

As for Sale, Cora reiterated that there is no way the starter can change the way he approaches things. In that last start against the Orioles, for instance, the lefty's fastball maxed out at 100 mph while averaging 98 mph.

“No, nah, just, that’s who he is, I guess," said Cora when asked if Sale could drawback on his fastball. "He threw 90 the first pitch in Baltimore and (Joey) Rickard hit a laser for a foul and he was like, no, no, no.  Let me get back to my 98, 99. Even in bullpens, I heard the stuff he threw the last two bullpens is pretty similar to what he had in Baltimore. Which, I asked him the other day, I said, how do you do that? I mean, there’s nobody in the stands, no-hitter, nobody hitting and he’s like, I don’t need that for me to get after it, which is great. We’ll see what he has to today. I expect 95 plus honestly. That’s who he is. That’s who he is."