It has been more than three weeks since Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale was placed on the disabled list as a result of a strained flexor muscle, but according to a report, the 25-year-old will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday.
Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Sale will appear in an outing for Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday. At this point, it is believed that Sale will need at least one additional outing after Thursday, but if his timetable stays on course, the talented left-hander could be back in the Chicago rotation by the end of the month. So far, Sale's return has been going as well as expected, with bullpen sessions and a simulated game last week that revealed no problems with his elbow.
Before heading to the disabled list, Sale excelled in four starts, compiling a 2.30 ERA while striking out more than a batter per inning in just over 27 innings of work. Without Sale available, the White Sox have managed to stay afloat to the tune of a 19-21 record, but they are currently last in the American League in runs allowed (201). Sale's immediate replacement in the rotation, Andre Rienzo, hasn't been terrible, but his 4.56 ERA through four starts and 22 2/3 innings is nothing to write home about. His peripherals suggest that he could have been even worse, with a 12/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio and four homers allowed in that span. When Sale returns, Chicago will have a few options to be demoted either to the minors or to the bullpen, as the trio of Rienzo, Scott Carroll and Hector Noesi each possess limited track records and pedigrees at this level.