Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale speaks with Sea Dogs pitching coach Lance Carter last month at Hadlock Field in Portland. Kevin Thomas photo

Matt Barnes wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Sale pitches at his pre-Tommy John surgery level when he returns to the Boston Red Sox.

Sale will make his second rehab start at Double-A Portland on Tuesday. He likely will return from the IL in early August.

His first rehab start was on Thursday in the Florida Complex League where he tossed three scoreless innings against Orioles minor leaguers, allowing four hits and striking out five. He threw 39 pitches, sat at 93-94 mph with his fastball and topped out at 97 mph.

“I have no doubt in my mind that when he comes back, he’s going to be Chris Sale,” Barnes said. “And any time you can get a guy like that on a team that’s making a push, it’s completely invaluable. It’s incredible.”

J.D. Martinez said the Red Sox don’t need Sale at 100% for him to make a difference.

“Huge,” Martinez said about Sale’s eventual return. “If we can get Sale back to 80% of what he is, 75%, I think it’s a great addition. It’s like a trade.”

The Red Sox starting rotation has done OK without Sale. Boston ranks 20th in the majors in starter ERA (4.41).

“I don’t know when he’s going to come back. I think they’re saying sometime early August,” Barnes said. “But you’re talking about getting a guy who’s one of the best pitchers in baseball when he’s healthy and on the field. And we get him at a crucial point to make a push in maybe the last two months of the season. Right around the same time teams are typically trying to go out and make moves at the trade deadline. So we get Chris Sale back for nothing because we already have him. We have a very good team as is.”

Sale will throw at least five innings in a rehab game before pitching for Boston.

It should be interesting to see if the Red Sox will be in the market to add a starting pitcher before the July 30 trade deadline.

Tanner Houck – who spent time about a month and a half sidelined with a sore flexor muscle – was recalled after the All-Star break and threw three scoreless innings in relief against the Yankees on Friday. He will start for Boston on Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

Houck has the ability to both start and pitch in a similar high-leverage, long-relief role that Garrett Whitlock has thrived in this season.

“They’re part of our group so it’s really good to be able to incorporate them,” Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom told about Sale, Houck and Jarren Duran. “It’s amazing to see Chris being able to make the progress that he’s making. We’ve been waiting for that for so long. It’s obviously a great thing, it’s something we need to factor in when we think about our roster, but other than the timing, I try to separate it from how we think about the deadline.”

THE RED SOX will place Christian Arroyo on the 10-day injured list before their game against the Toronto Blue Jays here in Buffalo on Monday.

Boston will activate Danny Santana from the 10-day injured list.

Arroyo strained his hamstring making his first base debut Sunday against the New York Yankees in New York.

This will be Arroyo’s third trip to the injured list this season. He missed 16 games in May with a left hand contusion, then 13 games in late June and early July with a right knee contusion.

Santana has been on the IL since July 9 (retroactive to July 7) with a left quad strain. He went 1-for-4 with two walks in two rehab games for Triple-A Worcester on Friday and Saturday.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.