Chris Sale got good news Thursday: He can throw again.
The Red Sox pitcher, who has been on the injured list since June 2 with a stress reaction in his shoulder blade, had an MRI and was told he can begin throwing every other day from 60 feet as he continues his rehab. He started that regimen Thursday and said he felt good.
Sale had been moved to the 60-day injured list on June 9, making Aug. 1 the earliest he could return. While he and manager Alex Cora declined to give a timetable, Sale said he didn’t want to be on the list any longer than necessary.
“It’s been enough time,” he said.
This injury is another in a long list of ailments that have plagued the 34-year-old lefthander in recent years. In 2019, he underwent Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of the shortened 2020 season and much of the 2021 campaign. In 2022, he pitched just 5⅔ innings because of illness, a broken finger, and a broken wrist.
After making at least 25 starts each season from 2012-19, Sale has made just 22 starts since.
“Not fun,” Sale said of his most recent stint on the injured list. “You almost don’t even feel like you’re part of the team at times. You’re not traveling, not playing, showing up to just work out and lift weights.”
That made Thursday’s step — however incremental — feel that much better.
“It’s big for me personally just because it’s baseball stuff,” said Sale. “I’m a baseball player, and showing up to a baseball field to not do anything baseball-related is not fun.
“To be able to show up and actually feel like I’m doing something to better myself, to hopefully sooner rather than later help this team, is good. Throwing is better than not throwing, that’s for damn sure.”
Sale struggled to start this season, posting an 8.22 ERA across his first five starts. But in his next six, he found the form that made him a seven-time All-Star, with a 2.25 ERA.
The lefthander believes he can replicate those results soon after returning because his layoff would be shorter than it has been with previous injuries.
“I think maybe not day one, pitch one, but I think it’ll be quicker,” he said. “Now that I’m moving my arm, I can start doing some dry stuff again and just start working on my mechanics and my delivery and stuff like that.
“So when that time does come, I’m not where I was to start the year. Hopefully I pick up where I left off and we just kind of keep rolling.”
Cut that out
Brayan Bello, searching for a pitch he could throw inside to lefties for strikes, experimented with a cutter during his June 23 start against the White Sox. He threw the pitch nine times, per Baseball Savant, the same amount he threw his slider.
The pitch averaged 30 inches of vertical break, 14 less than his slider has this season.
It generated just one swing-and-miss. While Cora appreciated the confidence his young starter displayed in debuting the pitch, he didn’t think it was polished enough to use against major league hitters.
“One was good,” Cora said. “If two of those cutters, they go out of the ballpark, I’m the one that has to answer the questions.
“He’s going to keep working on it and there’s going to be certain spots that he might use it. But it’s a work in progress.”
Bello allowed just one earned run in seven innings Thursday, striking out five and carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He threw four cutters — this time the pitch drew a much more favorable reaction from the Sox manager.
“They were good actually,” Cora said.
Lefthander Richard Bleier (shoulder inflammation) threw four at-bats of live bullpen Thursday … Trevor Story threw on the Fenway infield, with Cora saying the shortstop’s mechanics looked good. His rehab from a modified version of Tommy John surgery brings unique concerns; unlike with a pitcher, the Sox can’t be sure a rehab game will require Story to test his arm … John Schreiber (right teres major strain) will be with the Sox sooner rather than later, per Cora, but not before the All-Star break … James Paxton is good to start Friday at Toronto … Cora said Pablo Reyes (abdominal strain) will begin rehab games Monday … Connor Wong was in the lineup to catch his 60th game Thursday, more than double his previous career high in the majors. He has played in every game since June 18, in part because of Reese McGuire’s injury. Wong will likely get Saturday off, Cora said … Adam Duvall also will likely get an off-day Friday. Cora said the outfielder is slowly getting more comfortable and that he’s pleased with Duvall’s latest at-bats ... Dorchester native and NBA champion Bruce Brown threw out the first pitch for Thursday’s game … Former Red Sox Mookie Betts (RF) and J.D. Martinez (DH) were both named National League All-Star game starters. The Red Sox will not have any.