Boston Red Sox’s Chris Sale confirms he’s not vaccinated, was asymptomatic while sidelined with COVID for second time


BOSTON — Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who returned Friday, said he was asymptomatic while he was sidelined with COVID-19. He also confirmed he is not vaccinated.

“The weirdest part for me in all of this was getting a phone call having someone tell me that I’m sick,” Sale said. “That was kind of awkward. I came in here. I threw my bullpen. I did my workout, everything. And I get a phone call and they’re like, ‘Hey, you tested positive for COVID.’ I don’t know how. I didn’t feel bad. I’ve never had a cough or the runs or any of the other symptoms that come with it. So it was kind of just a head scratcher.”

Sale earned the victory in the Red Sox’s 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles here at Fenway Park on Friday.

The lefty wasn’t overpowering. He recorded just four swings-and-misses. But he did his job. He pitched 5 innings, allowing one run, two hits and no walks while striking out one.

“I work hard to maintain a good diet and exercise routine,” Sale said. “I take vitamins every day so I was prepared for this. So in the end, it worked out.”

Sale also had COVID in January when he lost his smell and taste for about one week but called it “a real mild case.”

Sale worked out in his backyard to prepare for Friday’s start.

“I had people bringing stuff to my house whether it be weights, jump ropes. Heck, I even got a portable mound from Babson (College),” Sale said.

Sale threw a 6-inning simulated game in the backyard.

“I have a pretty good-sized backyard so I was able to stretch out to 90 feet and play some long toss as well,” he said. “Threw a bullpen in my backyard. It was all kind of the same. .. I didn’t have the squat rack there and some other things. But made do. I’ve been in worse situations.”

Sale allowed a 401-foot solo homer to Austin Hays on a 91.4 mph four-seam fastball in the second inning.

His fastball velocity was down. He averaged 92.4 mph and topped out at 94.6 mph, per Baseball Savant. He relied heavily on his slider.

“My fastball wasn’t really jumping out of my hand tonight,” Sale said. “So I really just had to rely on my secondary pitches, my slider, my changeup.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora added, “(Sale and catcher Christian Vázquez) recognized the fastball today wasn’t acting the way it usually does and they went to plan B. They started using the slider a little bit more. The changeup. A lot of offspeed pitches. And he did an amazing job.”

Sale threw 40 sliders, 23 fastballs and 16 changeups. He used 13 fastballs in the first two innings, then just two in the next two innings before returning to it in the fifth when he threw eight fastballs.

Sale recorded nine groundball outs and one flyout.

“The slider was a lot better than his first few outings,” Cora said. “The velocity wasn’t there. But it’s hard to get it going in those 10 days, trying to do it by yourself. He tried everything in the yard. He even had that fake mound, whatever. But just to throw into a net or whatever, it’s not the same. He had to pitch today. It was good to see his slider play the way it did today. A lot of weak contact. We played great defensively behind him. And he gave us enough.”

Arroyo could be activated Saturday or Sunday

Christian Arroyo (COVID) went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in a rehab game for Triple-A Worcester at Syracuse on Friday. He played seven innings at second base.

“The goal is for him probably to be active during this series,” Cora said. “But the thing with Christian, it’s not only COVID. Before COVID, he came in and he didn’t play that much. He was coming (back) from his injury. So we have to make sure he feels good, his legs are where they’re supposed to be and go from there.”

Duran rehabs for Worcester, too

Jarren Duran (COVID) led off for the WooSox. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the DH.

Valdez, Santana remain in Chicago

Phillips Valdez and Danny Santana, who both tested positive for COVID in Chicago last weekend, remain there.

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