Chris Sale

Chris Sale throws during spring training last February. Sale made his first rehab start Thursday since having Tommy John surgery, and is tentatively schedule to pitch for the Portland Sea Dogs next week. John Bazemore/Associated Press

For the first time in nearly two years, Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale found himself pitching in game action Thursday.

Sale made a rehab start for Boston’s Florida Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers on Thursday, facing Orioles minor-league hitters. In three scoreless innings, the lefty allowed four hits while striking out five batters. He threw 39 pitches, sat 93-94 mph with his fastball and maxed out at 97 mph.

Assuming Sale feels good in the days to come, he will make another rehab start for the Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday night at Hadlock Field.

“I just talked to him,” said Boston’s Manager Alex Cora. “He’s very excited. Going into the game, he felt good. During the game, he felt good. After the game, he felt good. Now, we have to wait until tomorrow and see how it goes but the plan is for him to go to Portland for next week.”

Before Thursday, Sale last appeared in a game on Aug. 13, 2019, when he struck out 12 batters in 6⅔ innings against the Cleveland Indians. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020 and finally got to the point where he was ready to face hitters in simulated sessions in late June. He has been working out in Fort Myers for the last couple weeks after spending some time with the Red Sox in Boston.

Though Sale’s outing came against low-level competition, it still marked an important step in his recovery process. His next outing will come just two levels below the majors.

“So far, so good. He said he got hit around, quote-on-quote,” Cora said. “They were swinging the bats, which is good. I think competition is always great. Not dominating at will. That’s always good, confidence-wise, but the fact he had to work is a plus for us.”

ROSTER MOVES: Jarren Duran isn’t the only Red Sox prospect joining the club for the start of the second half.

Boston is also calling up pitcher Tanner Houck, a source confirmed Thursday morning. WBZ’s Dan Roche first reported the move.

Houck, who owns a 1.98 ERA in 27⅓ innings since making his debut in September, hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 18, when he allowed three runs in 4⅓ innings against the White Sox in a spot start during a doubleheader. The 25-year-old was shut down because of a sore flexor muscle in his throwing arm in early May and missed about six weeks before returning to Triple-A Worcester’s rotation on June 17. He has pitched five times at Triple-A since returning and most recently started Saturday against Lehigh Valley.

It’s unclear how the Red Sox plan to use Houck. The club could use him as a starter in a six-man rotation, put him in the bullpen, or create a hybrid role meant to give both starters and relievers extra rest.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.