Alex Cora: Chris Sale 'a lot stronger than a few years ago'

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Cora: Sale 'a lot stronger than a few years ago' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

As if Boston Red Sox fans needed more reasons to be fired up about the forthcoming return of Chris Sale.

The left-handed ace looked like his dominant self in his Thursday rehab start for the Florida Complex League Red Sox. Sale pitched three shutout innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out five.

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After the start, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Sale felt good and was "very excited" about his progress. He spoke more about the 32-year-old's condition on Friday.

“Really good. Really good. I texted with him this morning, he felt great physically,” Cora said. “Everything went well. He’s really excited, like I said yesterday. The way he’s been able to come back on a daily basis is something that, it’s not that he’s surprised, he’s made some adjustments as far as his nutrition and his workouts and all that.

"He’s actually a lot stronger now than what he was a few years ago, and he’s very excited with that. If everything goes as planned he’ll be on the mound again on Tuesday in Portland.”

Can't get much better of an update than that.

Cora added that five innings of work for Sale is "100 percent" a possibility when he takes the mound for his next rehab start. If all goes well Tuesday in Portland, he'll be that much closer to returning to the top of Boston's rotation.