Left-handed pitcher Chris Sale, a veteran with 241 starts in his career, told reporters Tuesday at Fenway Park that he’d be willing to return from injury as a reliever.
Working his way back to the Boston Red Sox after suffering a stress fracture in his rib cage, Sale, 33, threw a live bullpen session on Monday, and is in line to throw another on Thursday at Fenway.
“For sure,” Sale said regarding the bullpen. “I think, at this point, nothing really matters other than getting back out there.”
Sale spoke in the Red Sox dugout before Boston opened a series against the Oakland Athletics. He has watched from afar as his teammates have rallied from a slow start to jump into wild-card contention in the American League. Boston had won eight of 10 headed into the Oakland series and began play Tuesday 3½ games out of the AL’s second wild-card slot.
Just as Boston has rallied, the starting rotation has had to be shuffled amid other injuries. Nathan Eovaldi, the team’s Opening Day starter, and Garrett Whitlock are both on the 15-day injured list.
Meanwhile, Sale, who said he was a “blank sheet of paper” that the Red Sox could place where they see fit, could be sent on a rehabilitation stint in the minor leagues, should he throw well Thursday. He has tossed just 42⅔ innings for the Red Sox since the end of 2019 season.
Sale did have to pause his recovery with a medical, non-COVID-19 situation that delayed his throwing process 10 days, and took the time Tuesday to elaborate to reporters.
“I had some stuff come up. Given some family history stuff, I had to check off some boxes for some scary things,” he said. “Luckily, it all came back in the clear.”
Sale is 114-74 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,059 strikeouts across his major league career. Relieving is not entirely new to him as he has posted 12 saves. He is signed through 2024, when a five-year, $145 million deal with Boston comes to an end.