FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Sale’s second outing of the spring brought even more encouraging signs for the lefthander. In Saturday’s early afternoon matchup against the Twins, Sale threw 32 pitches in three scoreless innings, drawing eight whiffs and striking out five.
Sale needed just eight pitches to navigate the bottom of the first, punctuating it with his signature back-foot slider to get Kyle Farmer chasing. It wouldn’t be the last time Sale got that with his slider, an indication he had a good feel for the pitch.
“The slider was nice,” Sale said. “My two-seam fastball got some [two] early ground-ball outs. Obviously good defensive plays behind me, which is always nice. So, just being able to have the confidence in my defense to be able to throw strikes like that and get quick outs helps me on the back end.”
Sale fanned the first two hitters in the second, utilizing his fastball to retire Joey Gallo and slider to get Ryan Jeffers . He further smothered the Twins with his four-seamer in the third. He froze Michael Taylor with a heater for the third strike, and Kyle Garlick chased 95 miles per hour above the zone, Sale’s hardest pitch of the day.
Sale did the rest of his work in the bullpen, throwing 10 more pitches in an up and down in order to reach his targeted pitch count.
“Today went well. It was a building-block day,” Sale said. “We’ve got more work to do but it was a step in the right direction.”
Big step for Garrett Whitlock
Garrett Whitlock faced 12 hitters and threw 46 pitches over what amounted to two innings at Fenway South. The righthander is scheduled to face Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
“It felt great; it felt normal. It’s good to check that off,” said Whitlock, who had hip surgery in September and has been a bit behind the other starters.
Whitlock struck out five and allowed two hits facing a group of hitters that included Narciso Crook , Ceddanne Rafaela , and Enmanuel Valdez .
“I’m very excited. It’s always good to get back. It’s been like six months since I faced hitters,” Whitlock said. “I treated it more like a game.”
In a comic moment, Whitlock came off the mound to field a popup near third base, something a pitcher would normally not do. He made the catch and fired the ball into center field in celebration.
Righthander Brayan Bello threw 17 pitches over one inning. It was the first time he has faced hitters since recovering from forearm soreness early in camp.
“I’m very happy. Now we’re back,” Bello said via a translator. “I threw all of my pitches and I felt really good.”
The next step for Bello will be two innings against hitters on Wednesday.
Justin Turner ahead of schedule
Justin Turner’s progression is moving quicker than expected. There’s a strong chance he will get his 16 stitches out Sunday, just six days after he was hit in the face by a pitch. Turner has been doing cardio work walking on a treadmill, but that could change Sunday.
“There’s a chance he hits,” Cora said. “He’s doing a lot of stuff in the gym. So far, so good. He looks a lot better. Hopefully we can get him on the field and see where we’re at.”
Noah Song sidelined
Noah Song , the promising righthander taken from the Red Sox by the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft, has been shut down with back tightness. He will be re-evaluated next week.
It’s unlikely Song will be ready for the start of the season, which could play in favor of the Phillies retaining him. Under Rule 5 rules, Song — discharged by the Navy last month after four years on active duty — can be sent to the minors for a 30-day rehabilitation assignment. He would then need to spend 90 days on the major league active roster to meet Rule 5 requirements and become property of the Phillies.
Song would otherwise have to be on the major league roster all season.
Yu Chang lifts Taiwan
Sox infielder Yu Chang had a grand slam in the second inning as host Taiwan beat the Netherlands, 9-5, in the World Baseball Classic. He was 2 for 3 with a walk in the Pool A game. Chang is 6 for 12 with seven RBIs through three games . . . Sox left fielder Masataka Yoshida was 2 for 2 with three RBIs as Japan beat the Czech Republic, 10-2, to stay undefeated in Pool B in Tokyo. Yoshida’s opposite-field two-run double in the third inning gave his team the lead . . . Puerto Rico defeated Nicaragua, 9-1, in a Pool D game in Miami. Kiké Hernández was 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored . . . In Phoenix, Sox catcher Jorge Alfaro was 2 for 4 and scored three runs as Colombia beat Mexico, 5-4, in 10 innings in a Pool C game. Alex Verdugo was 1 for 5 with an RBI for Mexico, but struck out on three pitches in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on second and two outs.
Jesús Alou , who played 15 years in the majors before becoming director of the Red Sox minor league academy in the Dominican Republic, died Friday. He was 80. Alou was the youngest of three Dominican brothers who played in the majors. He won World Series with the Athletics in 1973 and ‘74. From 2002-20, Alou was a key figure for the Sox as their chief administrator in the DR. “He was such a mentor to so many of our players, but also our staff,” assistant general manager Eddie Romero said. “I loved him dearly. He was somebody influential in my life. He was never afraid to speak his mind, which I loved. It’s a huge loss for the organization, the baseball industry, and the Dominican Republic.” . . . James Paxton [hamstring] played long toss and is moving closer to getting back on the mound . . . Outfielder Wilyer Abreu was optioned to Triple A Worcester. The 23-year-old was 4 for 12 with two extra-base hits in seven games. Righthanders Taylor Broadway , Jake Faria , and Durbin Feltman were reassigned to the minor league camp.