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Chris Sale ‘progressing’ in rehab, throws 40-pitch bullpen session

Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale delivers pitch during first inning baseball game against BostRed Sox Chicago Thursday April 17

Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Chicago, Thursday, April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) ORG XMIT: CXS101

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Updated: May 5, 2014 11:41PM

Elbow injuries for pitchers can cause a great deal of speculation and angst.

Take the Sox at their word regarding the flexor muscle strain in Chris Sale’s left pitching elbow and there isn’t too much to be concerned about. Problem is, their words have been few since he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 21 retroactive to April 18.

As the rehabilitation process drags on and the team remains relatively silent, it gives more reason to speculate that something is seriously wrong.

On Monday, Sale threw a 40-pitch bullpen session at U.S. Cellular Field before the Sox played the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He addressed the ­media for the first time since early in his rehab, when an MRI exam revealed no structural damage to his elbow, and explained why he has been quiet about the injury.

“I deserve a certain level of privacy in terms of myself and my teammates and my coaches and training staff and general manager, manager,” Sale said. “The more we keep to ourselves the less people can speculate and that’s helped the process a little bit in terms of hecticness coming with what’s involved. We’re trying to keep this at bay as much as we can and try not to leak too much information out.”

He said his arm felt good after the bullpen session. The plan remains to evaluate Sale on a day-to-day basis. General manger Rick Hahn said Sale likely will make a rehab start in the next 10 days to two weeks.

That would be considered significant progress, but the Sox remain without a timetable — or, at least a public one — for his return.

So is his return that far off?

“It’s more art than science when you are starting to rebuild a guy back,” Hahn said. “Clinically he feels great and he’s progressing, but I don’t want to put a marker in the sand. It creates panic. In reality, it’s just a natural process of rebuilding a guy’s arm strength.”

The Sox have indicated that process likely means two more bullpen sessions — one of which possibly could be a simulated game — before Sale makes a rehab start.

The most telling signs of his health will be whether he is able to increase the intensity of his next bullpen session.

But don’t expect daily updates on the progression of the Sox’ ace.

“You’re just being cautious with it, he feels good, it’s heading in the right direction,’ manager Robin Ventura said. “So that’s the good news.”

The process doesn’t get any easier for Sale. It took him a bit to open up on the monotony of his situation, but eventually conceded that all the time in the training rooms is making a him a little stir crazy.

“I didn’t sign up for this — to sit in the training room for six innings a day,” Sale said. “It’s going well. I’m progressing. The team is playing great in the meantime. When you have players and an atmosphere that we have, you want to be out there.

“It’s a great atmosphere, it’s fun to be in, and it stinks to not be a part of it.”


Twitter: @SethGruen

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