KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a departure from our usual programming, there is a positive development involving the Red Sox: Chris Sale played catch on Friday.
It was a first step on yet another comeback trail for the lefthander, who had surgery on his left pinkie finger July 18 to repair a fracture. Sale was injured the previous day when he was struck by a 106.7 mile per hour line drive off the bat of Aaron Hicks in the second inning at Yankee Stadium.
With Fenway Park set up for the Mötley Crüe concert, Sale’s workout came at Boston College. It kickstarted the heart of Alex Cora.
“That’s good news,” the manager said before Boston’s 7-4 win in Kansas City.
Down for 19 days, Sale will need some time to build back up, but the process has started and the belief is that he will rejoin the rotation this season. There’s no schedule as of yet for when he would throw off a mound.
Sale, 33, has made only 11 starts for the Sox the last three seasons because of Tommy John surgery in 2020 followed by a fractured rib prior to spring training this year. He returned to the Sox on July 12 with five shutout innings at Tampa Bay. Then came the broken finger.
On further review
MLB’s Baseball Operations Department spoke to Cora and acknowledged the wrong decision was made on the video review of Salvador Perez’s home run in the seventh inning on Thursday.
“They explained the whole thing. They missed it,” Cora said. “Just have to move on.”
Perez hit a line drive off a wall at the base of the left field foul pole that deflected into left field. Based on the Kauffman Stadium ground rules, the ball was in play, but it was ruled a home run. The Sox challenged the call and it was upheld by the umpires at the review center in New York. Cora was then ejected when he came out of the dugout to talk to crew chief Bill Welke.
An MLB source said the rule was reviewed with the umpires involved.
There is no further recourse for the Sox as judgment calls can’t be protested. The call essentially gave the Royals an extra run in a game they won, 7-3.
Perez homered again on Friday, his 16th of the season a 454-foot no-doubter off Josh Winckowski in the fifth inning.
Michael Wacha faced 15 hitters in his start for Triple A Worcester on Thursday and retired 14 of them, eight by strikeout. But he may not be ready to return to the majors.
“He was very good,” Cora said. “We’re talking about it. Probably one more and then he’ll be with us. I think it makes sense. We’ll talk to him, probably, and see how he feels about it. But he’s trending in the right direction.”
Wacha is 6-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 13 starts. He hasn’t pitched since June 28 because of a sore shoulder.
Kiké Hernández, who is coming back from a hip strain, took batting practice on the field at BC and “felt great,” according to Cora.
“His moves are a lot better than early in the season and when he was getting tight in that area,” the manager said.
Hernández is scheduled to hit again on Saturday, then work out with the team at Fenway on Monday. He will need minor league games before returning.
“The way he’s trending, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s here with us in August,” Cora said.
Trevor Story, who has a fracture in his right wrist, is taking grounders and running the bases, but has not started hitting.
James Paxton threw 25 pitches of live batting practice at the team facility in Fort Myers, Fla., and is set for a two-inning intrasquad game next week. Cora believes the lefthander could join the team in September.
Shuffle coming at the top
Jarren Duran went 1-for-5 with a two-run double from the leadoff spot Friday, but Cora said the plan moving forward would be to use Tommy Pham in that role and drop Duran down. “Let him breathe,” Cora said . . . Nate Eovaldi, the scheduled starter on Saturday, is 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in six career games against the Royals . . . Bobby Dalbec is doing pre-game work at second base. There are no plans for him to start any games at that position, but with Eric Hosmer on the roster, versatility can help Dalbec get more at-bats. He played two innings at second on May 26 in a rout of the White Sox in Chicago.