Red Sox

‘Nothing to hang your hat on’: 5 things we learned as Chris Sale makes rehab start in Worcester

Sale walked five and struck out five with the Triple-A club.

Chris Sale
Chris Sale in his rehab start for the WooSox against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale struck out five batters, but struggled with his command at times in Wednesday’s rehab start for the Worcester Red Sox.

Sale — who is bouncing back from a stress fracture in his right rib cage — pitched 3.2 innings and allowed three hits and five walks to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. Here are five things we learned from what will likely be Sale’s final tune-up before he rejoins the big-league club.

Sale threw some very encouraging pitches

Sale started the game with a 97 mph fastball. In the second inning, he threw the type of slider that helped earn him a five-year, $145 million deal — slicing across the plate and ducking under a swinging bat. In the third, he obliterated Oswald Peraza — the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect — with three straight breaking balls, then coaxed an inning-ending double play. In the fourth, Sale fell behind 2-0 to Armando Alvarez, then rallied back to strike him out with a 96 mph fastball — nearly matching the heat of his first pitch of the game.

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Sale threw 58 percent of his pitches for strikes and displayed three pitches — his fastball, slider, and changeup. His final stat line wasn’t particularly impressive, but he showed some encouraging flashes and told reporters that he believed the issues with his command were very fixable.

Sale walked in a run with his final pitch

After the game, Sale scoffed and called his performance “not good.”

“Decent at times, but command was not good,” Sale said, per The Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier. “… I was just out there fishing today.”

Sale had a chance to end his evening on a good note — Worcester managers allowed him to stay in the game slightly over his pitch limit to try to clean up a bases loaded mess. But Sale couldn’t find the zone facing his final batter, and he walked Railriders catcher David Freitas — the team’s No. 9 hitter — to force in a run, which ended his evening on a frustrating note.

Sale called his outing “nothing to hang your hat on” and said he had a lot of things to clean up.

“It’s nothing overwhelming,” he added.

Worcester was ready for the occasion

The last time Sale made a rehab appearance in Worcester, the team’s outfielder Tate Matheny made a spectacular catch at the wall — robbing an opponent of a homer off Sale.

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Whether it was intentional or not, Worcester was ready for Sale’s start on Wednesday with a deeply appropriate bobblehead.

Worcester was watching both Sale and Brayan Bello

While they tried to help the big-league ace rehab, Worcester’s managers were simultaneously trying to watch the Red Sox in Boston, where top prospect Brayan Bello made his first major-league start on Wednesday.

“It’s kind of conflicting. I have to focus on one of the best pitchers in baseball but my mind is on a guy that’s making his debut,” WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott said, per Alex Speier. “For the organization, it’s a proud moment across the board.”

Like Sale, Bello showed flashes but was ultimately underwhelming — six hits and four runs in four innings, with three walks and two strikeouts.

Sale could pitch in the big leagues next week

Sale’s next opportunity could come against the Rays in Tampa Bay, after a four-game series against the Yankees at Fenway. They start their road series against the Rays on Monday.

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