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Chris Sale enjoyed pitching a simulated game while his Red Sox teammates had the day off: ‘This is fun for me’

Red Sox lefthander Chris Sale is lined up to start the second game of the regular season April 1.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Spring training results are rarely predictive of regular-season success. Day games in smaller ballparks between lineups sprinkled with minor leaguers offer only a snapshot.

But for Chris Sale, even simulated games in empty ballparks at 10 a.m. while the rest of the team has the day off are meaningful after missing most of the previous three seasons because of injuries.

“It’s very freeing,” said the Red Sox lefthander, who worked five innings and threw 80 pitches Thursday. “I’m having fun. Your start day lands on the off day and a lot of guys would be like, ‘Arrgh.’ This is fun for me.”


Sale faced four minor league hitters without any fielders behind him. Connor Wong was his catcher and Nick Pivetta sat in a seat behind the plate and served as the umpire.

Pivetta relied on a tablet that conveyed balls and strikes from the ABS system installed at JetBlue Park. Still, his calls seemed a bit slanted toward his fellow pitcher.

“We need Nick to umpire all our games,” pitching coach Dave Bush said.

Sale was sharp in a Thursday workout.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The crowd, such as it was, included manager Alex Cora, a few team executives, four media types, and Sale’s father, Allen.

“If you ask him, I’m the nastiest guy on the planet,” Sale said.

The hitters who faced him would not disagree. Sale struck out nine without a walk and allowed one run on six hits. Or maybe five depending on your interpretation.

Sale adhered to the pitch timer and worked at a quick pace. He threw his slider for strikes and was able to get the hitters to chase high fastballs.

“We’ve put in a lot of work as a group getting my mechanics back and feeling good. To have that today was really nice,” he said.

The point of the day was to build up arm strength, but Sale didn’t give in while facing Ryan Fitzgerald, Tyler McDonough, Chase Meidroth, and Corey Rosier.


“It’s not like I was out there just flipping it in there,” Sale said.

Sale is lined up to start the second game of the regular season April 1. He will get two more starts in spring training and then an extra day of rest before that game.

Sale met with reporters on the field after his last pitch and was smiling the entire time. This spring training has rekindled something in him.

“I’m learning to have a little bit of fun,” he said. “I’m having a really good time doing this.”

Yoshida helps Japan

Masataka Yoshida was 1 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs as Japan beat Italy, 9-3, in a World Baseball Classic quarterfinal game in Tokyo. Sal Frelick was 0 for 5 for Italy. The outfielder out of Lexington High and Boston College hit .304 over five games with three doubles and four RBIs … With their WBC teams eliminated, Jorge Alfaro, Richard Bleier, and Rafael Devers should be back at Fenway South in the coming days … The Sox host the Braves Friday afternoon. Tanner Houck is the scheduled starter. The game is on NESN.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.