BOSTON — Chris Sale likely is nearing a rehab assignment after throwing another bullpen session Friday. The session consisted of about 22-25 pitches, Manager Alex Cora said.

“Good fastball, good slider, good changeup,” Cora said.

The plan is for Sale to throw off the mound three times next week.

“We don’t know how – if it’s a bullpen or live BP, whatever,” Cora said.

Cora said he’s not 100% sure if Sale will go out on a rehab assignment after throwing three times next week, then added “but probably.”

Sale recently resumed his throwing program after a pause because of “a small personal medical issue.” Sale began the season on the 60-day IL after suffering a stress fracture in his right rib cage.


“I haven’t talked to him today. Just got the reports and everybody feels like it went well,” Cora said.

THE SOX ROTATION has been a strength all year, and they’ll add one more to the crew on Saturday.

Josh Winckowski, a 23-year-old prospect sent by the Royals in the Andrew Benintendi trade last year, will make his big league debut and start the second game of a scheduled doubleheader against the Orioles at 6:10 p.m.

“We’ve been talking about him,” Cora said. “We thought about it in the Texas series but we felt we were going to be OK the way we did it and I think we did … I think, forget the baseball part of it, for him, to map it out and have his family here and everybody here, it’s a lot easier than just, fly to Texas and pitch and then everybody misses the whole thing.”

A 15th-round draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2016, Winckowski has been sensational since joining the Sox’ system last year. He had a 3.94 ERA and 1.23 WHIP between Double-A and Triple-A in ‘21, and will enter his start on Saturday having posted a 3.13 ERA and 0.85 WHIP for Triple-A Worcester this year.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander throws a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and adds a changeup, slider and split-finger.


“He’s been really good for us,” Cora said. “He’s a guy that we really like. He competes with himself, with everybody. He wants to be great. It should be fun.”

Nathan Eovaldi will start the first game of the doubleheader, which kicks off at 12:10 p.m.

TREVOR STORY has felt this way before. Long before he signed a $140 million contract with the Red Sox a couple months ago, he broke into the majors with a stretch nearly as impressive as the one he has put together in the last 10 days.

Story, who has hit nine homers and driven in 25 runs in his last 14 games, started his career with a similarly torrid stretch. In the first week of the 2016 season, the then-Rockies rookie homered seven times in his first six games, including twice on Opening Day and six times in Colorado’s first four contests. The last six weeks have reminded Story of that week six years ago.

“It definitely feels like there’s more runners this time around, which is great,” Story said after driving in four runs in Boston’s 16-7 win Thursday night. “Obviously, you want to come up big in those situations. It’s happening at the right time.

“Times like this are rare,” he added. “That’s really the only other stretch that’s pretty similar to this. Great feelings thinking about that time.”


Through May 8, Story was hitting just .194 with zero homers, a .545 OPS and 35 strikeouts in 105 plate appearances. After a two-hit performance May 10 in Atlanta, he launched his first Red Sox homer the next day then went nuclear on the team’s recent home stand with six homers in seven games. Over three days in Chicago, he homered twice more (on Tuesday and Thursday) and is now one blast behind Rafael Devers for the team lead. His 37 RBI lead the Red Sox and rank third in all of baseball. And 32 of them have come in May.

“Every time I go to hit, there’s one or two guys on, so that’s a credit to everyone giving me a chance and an opportunity to drive them in,” Story said.

CORA HAS SEEN plenty of good stretches from J.D. Martinez since taking over as Red Sox manager in 2018. But nothing compares to the streak Boston’s designated hitter has recently been on.

After going 3-for-5 with two runs and a walk in Thursday’s blowout win, Martinez leads baseball with a .380 batting average, 17 points higher than Tim Anderson, who is in second place at .363. Martinez is hitting an outrageous .443 with a 1.155 OPS in May.

And while the DH has hit just five homers on the year, he came into the day leading the American League in doubles (16).

Cora has been amazed by Martinez’s recent performance.


“I’ve never seen him this way,” Cora said before the game. “This is the best I’ve seen him in four years. The quality of the at-bats, two-strike hits, going the other way. It has been impressive.

“It seems like everything he hits right now, he’s hitting right on the barrel,” Cora added. “Using the whole field. Honestly, the best I’ve seen him.”

Martinez impressed Red Sox brass by showing up to camp in improved shape, and Cora attributes that to the fact that he did not spend the winter rehabbing an injury like he had in previous years. In April, he hit .278 with a single homer and dealt with adductor tightness toward the end of the month. Since returning to the lineup on a full-time basis May 1, Martinez has anchored Boston’s offensive turnaround with hits in 20 of 21 games. Only four of his 39 May hits have gone for home runs, which is unusual for one of baseball’s premier power hitters.

“Sometimes he feels like when he doesn’t slug, we don’t win,” Cora said. “But right now he’s taking what they give him. He’s staying inside the ball, driving the ball to right field.

“He’ll start getting the ball in the air at one point,” the manager added. “Especially at home, when it gets warm, he can drive the ball to right-center and get hits.”

Martinez’s 2021 numbers are a bit deceiving. He finished with a very respectable .286 average, 28 home runs and .867 OPS, but slowed down significantly after a torrid April. From May 2 on, he hit just .271 with 19 homers. That came after a disastrous shortened 2020 season in which Martinez hit .213 with seven homers in 54 games.

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