Red Sox

Chris Sale inches closer to Fenway return

"He loves the fact that these guys have put the team in a position to compete the rest of the season, and he wants to be part of it."

Chris Sale is scheduled to pitch for Portland again Sunday.

When Chris Sale and Alex Cora spoke back in spring training, Sale told Cora that he hoped the Red Sox would be playing meaningful games when he rejoined the team late in the season.

On Saturday, with the Red Sox holding a one-game lead in the American League East and the left-hander Sale inching closer to a return to the big leagues, Cora recalled that interaction and shared that he’s expecting Sale to contribute this year.

“He’s not a guy who’s going to come here just to get ready for next year,” Cora said. “He’s on a mission.”

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Sale pitched 3 2/3 no-hit innings and struck out six for Double-A Portland on Tuesday. He’s set to make another rehab start for the Sea Dogs on Sunday, and Cora expects him to pitch 4 or 5 innings this time around.

Cora didn’t put a pitch count on it, but he did say that there’s no chance this will be Sale’s last rehab start. When asked if it’s accurate that he’ll need at least one more after this, Cora grinned and said it could be two or three more. He did say that he’s “getting close” to returning following a long journey after Tommy John surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament last March.

Regardless of the exact date, it appears he’ll return sometime in August or September as the Red Sox hope to solidify their spot in the postseason.

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