GLENDALE, Ariz. –Chris Sale threw a 75-pitch simulated game, throwing free and easy and at max effort in his final set on Friday morning.
All signs continue to point to an April 11 or 12 return for the White Sox ace, who is recovering from an avulsion fracture in his right (landing) foot.
“Yeah I wanted to see how it feels when I’m max effort,” Sale said. “Don’t want to baby this thing along and first time I try to have a max effort is in a game and you run into problems there. You try to build up, put as much stress on it here as I can so when the season comes I can handle it.”
Sale, who threw five sets of 15 pitches, sitting down between sets, will throw in a game next time out, probably a minor league contest in five days.
“I feel great, really,” he said. “Today was a big confidence booster being able to go out there five different times and really do everything I’ve always done.”
The only hurdle for Sale to clear is lateral movement. He did bounce around the mound though, making a behind-the-back catch of a liner, a play he called “the sickest thing I’ve ever done.”
“I’m ready to go, really,” he said. “I just have to get some side to side movement. I can run straight, I can pitch. But cuts and balance and things like that are still to come.”
Said pitching coach Don Cooper:
“Right now it looks like he would be on time to make that [April 11 or 12] start if we have no setbacks. His rehab with [trainer] Herm [Schneider] has been going good. He even made a PFP play there at the end and moved his feet well so that’s encouraging.
“And we may ask him to move around and pick up a bunt, cover first base and stuff like that, but not too much. The main thing is the innings and the pitches.”
NOTE: Cooper talked about closer David Robertson and reliever Jake Petricka, who are dealing with sore arms in the elbow area. Petricka said he had an MRI that was clean.
“Hermie tells me Robbie is going to be fine and Petricka will play catch tomorrow,” Cooper said. “I’m always concerned but I never worry because I guarantee you we’re going to have 12 guys getting on the plane. And we’re going to be ready to do battle come April 6 [Opening Day].”