HOUSTON -- The only thing certain about Chris Sale's next start is that it won't completely be decided until the White Sox see how Sale responds to Friday's trip to the mound.
"Just talking to him right now, you want him to go to the ballpark and get his Day 1 (work) back in to see how he feels, and we'll make an adjustment from there," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "You're just trying to make sure he feels good and everything's normal when he goes back in and does his workout the day after throwing."
Ventura started the talk about Sale on Saturday by pointing out that he "threw great" on Friday for Triple-A Charlotte. The numbers from Sale's first injury rehab start in testing the flexor muscle strain of his left arm would back up that statement, as would the hitters from Durham.
Sale threw 68 pitches over four innings and recorded strikeouts for 11 of the 12 outs. He allowed one infield hit and walked two during the first game of a Friday doubleheader. He would be on target to pitch this Wednesday, with the White Sox finishing a nine-game, three-city road trip in Kansas City that night.
Based on Ventura's pregame comments on Saturday in Houston, a return to the Majors for Sale's next start doesn't seem likely.
"On Wednesday? No," said Ventura of Sale, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since April 17 against Boston. "Before you make an exact date, you want to make sure he's doing well. I don't foresee him pitching then.
"He threw enough pitches to where you know he can go pitch in a game. I don't want him to come up here and pitch three innings in a game just to come up here and pitch three innings in a game. If he can extend it a little bit, and he feels like he can get his pitch count up higher to where he can go out and be in a game and it's not going to tax the bullpen to have him up here, you're going to go ahead and take a look at it."
Friday's start could be Sale's only rehab appearance, with the White Sox opting for a side session before a start next weekend at home against the Yankees. It's all speculation, though, until the White Sox officially hear how Sale responds.
"We are definitely looking at it and looking at dates, but it's all wishful thinking until we talk to him and hear how he feels today," Ventura said. "Once we hear from him and how he's doing, start making a more immediate plan on how we are going to go. A more definite date. But if he's feeling anything at all, then let him do another one and figure out how to go."