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With a start in sight, Chris Sale is fired up

Chris Sale has had enough of bullpens, batting practice, and simulated games.barry chin/globe staff/file 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Sale said he was ready to pitch for the Red Sox a day after they acquired him from the White Sox — that’s how excited he was.

But with an extra week of spring training this year because of the World Baseball Classic, the Red Sox were sure to have Sale take his time and hit every checkpoint in preparing for the season.

Playing catch led to throwing in the bullpen. Then came live batting practice, and on Wednesday Sale threw a two-inning simulated game at JetBlue Park.

Now, finally, he’s ready for a Grapefruit League game, and that will be Monday in West Palm Beach against the Astros.


“Very exciting,” said Sale. “Now we’re starting to play real baseball and not throwing off the side mounds or simulated games. I’m excited. It will be fun.”

Sale threw 38 pitches to teammates Dan Butler and Steve Selsky. Sandy Leon caught, as pitching coach Carl Willis and Brian Bannister watched. Only twice did Sale allow solid contact. He said he threw a full assortment of pitches with more focus on his fastball and changeup.

“His two-seamer just froze us,” said Butler. “He had great movement in his fastball and his breaking ball had that late movement to it. He had a good changeup, too. If he throws like that, there won’t be many guys on base.”

Sale said his body has responded well to the gradual buildup.

“If anything, you’re getting an extra week of work in,” he said, “so if anything, it gives us a little more rest with our arms and getting our feet underneath us.”

The schedule Sale is on lines him up to start the third game of the regular season. Then those games count.

“I have expectations for myself wherever I am or whatever year it is,” he said. “I’ve been like that at a young age. I demand a lot of myself at a high level.


“If I don’t meet those expectations, there’s nobody more upset than I am. For right now, just putting in the work to get to the promised land.”

Eye on Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez is scheduled to leave Friday to join the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic. The DR opens play March 9 against Canada. Its first-round games are at Marlins Park in Miami.

Ramirez played in four of the Red Sox’ first six games but has yet to play first base because of a tight right shoulder, something that typically affects him early in spring training.

“It’s safe to say if no improvements are ramping up with the throwing program in the next 24-48 hours, additional testing is going to be needed at that point,” said manager John Farrell.

The shoulder issue would not necessarily keep Ramirez out of the tournament.

“If his role with the Dominican is to DH, he’s doing that now,” Farrell said. “What we need to do — if, in fact, he goes — we’ve got to continue to be corresponding with their medical staff as best as possible to make sure work is being done and that there’s some increase at some point of the throwing program.

“Hanley is aware of this. We’ve got to get his throwing program ramped up.”

Thorny issue

Tyler Thornburg needs a reset.

For the second time, the righthanded reliever was unable to complete an inning. Facing the Orioles Wednesday, he allowed four runs on three hits, a walk, and a hit batter.


In two games, Thornburg has retired only four of 14 batters. He has given up nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits.

“His arm was late, his delivery was not in synch,” said Farrell. “You see a number of pitches up. We have to sharpen some things up.”

Thornburg has pitched poorly in spring training over the course of his career and recovered. But Farrell said the Sox cannot assume that happens again.

Start him up

Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to start and work two innings against Tampa Bay Thursday at JetBlue Park. The lefthander was brought along cautiously because of what the team has said was a minor knee injury in winter ball. Any concern has abated in recent days . . . According to Dustin Pedroia, the home dugout at JetBlue Park needs renovation because of poor views of the field . . . Until last week, Ruben Amaro Jr. had never coached third base. But he has filled in admirably for Brian Butterfield, who is recovering from knee surgery. Farrell said Amaro’s growth as a coach is something he is cognizant of.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe. Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.