PORTLAND, Maine — Boston Red Sox ace pitcher Chris Sale made a rehab start at Hadlock Field for the Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday night in front of a sold out crowd.
The Sea Dogs are Boston’s AA minor league affiliate.
Sale, 33, said he felt good and is anxious to get back to Boston and help the team as they make a second-half, surging bid to make the playoffs.
However, if promoted back to Boston, Sale would become one of just three players on the Sox roster still not vaccinated against COVID-19.
He told reporters on Thursday that he had no plans to get the jab, even if it means not playing against Boston playoff rivals the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada, where vaccinations are mandatory for cross-border travel.
“Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow and we’ll figure that [expletive] out later,” Sale said, before changing the subject.
The other two unvaccinated players on Boston’s roster are former Sea Dogs Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck.
Sale has yet to pitch in a game for Boston this year after being sidelined with a rib cage fracture during spring training.
The seven-time all-star player has been plagued by a host of injuries in the past few seasons and made another rehab start in Portland last summer.
Signed with Boston through 2024, with a five-year, $145 million contract, Sale is 114-74 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,059 strikeouts over 321 big league appearances.
But he’s tossed only 42-and-a-third innings for the Red Sox since the close of the 2019 season.
Clockwise from left: A sold out crowd waits to get into Hadlock Field in Portland on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale was making a rehab start; Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale winds up before making a pitch; Sale wipes his brow after missing a close pitch. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN
In 2020, Sale went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts while battling back from Tommy John surgery.
Sale hurled 52 pitches Thursday night, giving up four hits and one run in four innings of work.
“It felt good. Honestly, I was ready to go back out there,” he said. “I want to go out there and compete. I want to win.”
Sale said he’d be ready to start in Boston next week, if they wanted him.
“I’m just waiting for the phone call,” he said.
Sale made two rehab starts for the Sea Dogs in 2021. In his first outing on July 20, he threw 3.2 hitless innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Five days later, he allowed two runs on six hits in 3.2 innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Sale said he likes pitching in Portland.
“This is a beautiful city. You can’t beat this,” he said. “I was just in Florida where it was like 140 degrees.”
Red Sox officials have not yet said what’s next for Sale, whether he will make another start for Portland or move up to their AAA affiliate in Worcester. Sale said, whatever comes next, he’s anxious for it.
“This whole process is to get me back to Boston,” he said.