Chris Sale passed his first test of spring training with flying colors.
The Boston Red Sox' oft-injured left-hander returned to the mound for Monday's exhibition vs. the Detroit Tigers. He resembled his ace self, tossing two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, no walks, and two hits allowed on 31 pitches. He hovered around 93-95 mph with his fastball and topped out at 96.
Most importantly, Sale avoided any health setbacks. The successful outing undoubtedly came as a relief as he couldn't contain his smile heading back to the dugout.
“It was awesome,” Sale told NESN’s Jahmai Webster on the broadcast. “It took a long road. Everybody knows what happened not only to myself but everybody in this organization really lifting me up to get me to this spot. And I’m just really appreciative of it.”
Sale, 33, has made only 11 regular season starts since the end of the 2019 campaign due to various injuries. He missed the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and made only two starts last year due to a right rib stress fracture, a fractured pinky finger, and a broken right wrist. He sustained the fractured finger after being struck by a comebacker on July 17, then broke his wrist a few weeks later in a bicycle accident.
It's far too early to consider Sale a reliable ace, but the veteran southpaw is off to an encouraging start. If he can finally stave off injury, it will completely change the look of the Red Sox rotation in 2023.