The Red Sox remain encouraged by Chris Sale’s recovery from Tommy John surgery, but there continues to be bumps in the road.
Pitching coach Dave Bush spoke to reporters on Wednesday and noted that Sale has run into several complications since getting the surgery on March 30 of last year. The typical recovery is about 12-15 months, though it varies from pitcher to pitcher.
Sale has yet to throw off a mound, meaning he should still have at least a few months of build-up ahead of him.
“I don’t know what the date is going to be” for Sale to throw off a mound, Bush said. “But he’s moving forward at a good pace right now.
“As with all Tommy John recoveries, there are ups and downs, various things along the way. He’s had his fair share already. But he’s very encouraged. I’m encouraged by what he’s doing lately. He’ll keep plugging away.”
The Red Sox have been careful not to project any timetables with Sale, though it’s obvious they’d have a much better chance of postseason contention if he’s able to return sometime before the All-Star break in July.
Asked if the team still expects him to return at some point this season, Bush said he hopes so.
“We can map out Tommy John recovery and it’s never going to follow the plan we lay out,” Bush said. “But yes, the goal is to get him back at some point this year.”
Throwing off the mound would be an important step, but there are no “exciting milestones,” the pitching coach said.
“It’s moving from three days a week throwing to four, from four to five, from 90 feet to 120 feet, then from long toss to some mound work, from 10 pitches on the mound to 15,” he said. “It’s not a glamorous progression. There are very few high-intensity moments where you say, ‘wow this is a big step.’ A lot of it is behind the scenes, small steps.
“Then sometimes you look back after a while and like, ‘OK, we made a ton of progress this week, or the last two weeks.’ It’s a long road, man. He’s already almost a year into it. That’s how things go. Most Tommy Johns are 12-18 months. Some are even longer than that. He’s going to get there. It’s a matter of being patient and continuing to check the boxes and move step by step.”