Chris Sale has had more impressive outings than what he delivered Thursday for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox.
The Red Sox left-hander allowed four hits (three singles and a double) over three scoreless innings, striking out five with zero walks on 39 pitches. That's a very solid showing in Sale's first game action since Aug. 13, 2019, but it wasn't exactly lights-out against a low level of competition.
As manager Alex Cora explained, though, it's good for his ace to face a little adversity.
"He’s very excited," Cora told reporters Thursday, via The Boston Globe's Alex Speier. "Going into the game he felt good, during the game he felt good, after the game he felt good.
" … He said he got 'hit around.' 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 I think the fact that he had to work is a plus for us."
Most importantly, Sale threw hard -- he topped out at 97 mph and sat at 93-94 mph with his fastball, per Cora -- and around the strike zone. As he nears the end of his rehab from March 2020 Tommy John surgery, those are encouraging signs.
If Sale feels good Friday, he could return to the Northeast next week: His next rehab start likely will be with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday.