Red Sox

Chris Sale expects to pitch in 2021 ‘unless something crazy happens’

"I’ll be there soon enough."

Chris Sale
Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale pitches as Alex Cora looks on. photo by Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who threw his first bullpen session on Tuesday since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020, told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday that he “100 percent” expects to pitch in 2021.

“Unless something crazy happens,” Sale said, knocking on the table in front of him. “Yeah, I’ll be there soon enough.”

On Monday, Alex Cora told reporters Sale is “trending up.” After watching Sale pitch on Tuesday, Cora said it was “refreshing” to hear Sale talk exclusively about mechanics.

“He’s in a great place mentally,” Cora said. “Physically, he looks a lot stronger than two years ago. He’s just excited that he’s a baseball player again. And now we’ve just got to be patient.”

Sale wouldn’t put a timeline on his return. He said he has thrown pitches with hitters standing at the plate, but those hitters have not swung yet.

“They don’t really tell me a whole lot because they know where I’m going to go with it,” Sale said. “So just kind of take it a day at a time and anything that I get is a gift at this point. I’m appreciative of where I’m at. So I’m not going to push it.”

Sale added a funny story about throwing his first breaking ball in Florida. The left hander appeared surprised by the result, and reliever Ryan Brasier asked what Sale expected.

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“I expected that to be nasty,” Sale answered. “I didn’t expect for the catcher to have to jump to catch it.”

When he returns, Sale said he expects to be the pitcher he has always been — an ace who has been in the top six of American League Cy Young voting seven times since 2012.

“My expectation level is still as high, if not higher than it has ever been,” Sale said.

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