The Boston Red Sox did not plan on using Chris Sale out of the bullpen at any point this season.
According to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, that decision was made with Sale’s health in mind, as the 32-year-old is still working his way back to full strength after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. But the Red Sox have officially changed course there, as they have confirmed that Sale will be available out of the pen for Sunday’s Game 3 against the Rays at Fenway Park.
“We changed our mind,” Cora said (via MassLive). “He feels okay, he feels willing to do it. So we’ll go with it.”
It likely helps that Sale threw just 30 pitches in Friday’s Game 2, as the Sox lifted Sale after he surrendered four hits and five earned runs (most of which came on Jordan Luplow’s grand slam), and has two days of rest to his name.
The good news for the Red Sox is that the 6-foot-6 lefty has been fantastic at home this season, with a 5-0 record, 2.48 ERA , and 36 strikeouts in 29 innings of work over six appearances at Fenway in 2021.
Cora would not comment on whether or not Sale’s move to the bullpen will be permanent for the remainder of the postseason, as the Sox manager seems fully entrenched in a day-to-day mindset in regards to his pitching staff.
With momentum potentially on their side following a Game 2 blowout that seized Tampa’s home field advantage, the Red Sox will look to take a 2-1 series lead with Wild Card game hero Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.