Red Sox ace Chris Sale could restart throwing program early next week as left-hander continues to recover from rib cage injury

Red Sox ace Chris Sale will not be ready for the start of the 2022 season. That much we know. The veteran left-hander is, however, in good spirits as he continues to recover from a stress fracture in his right rib cage that he suffered last month.

In a conversation with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers on Tuesday, Sale revealed that he is slated to restart his throwing program early next week.

As highlighted by Cotillo, the plan for Sale would be to start throwing on flat ground before doing so off a mound. From there, he would pitch in games at extended spring training or perhaps for one of Boston’s minor-league affiliates.

The Red Sox, for what it’s worth, are not providing a timetable for when Sale could potentially return to action at the major-league level. However, the fact that he is close to throwing again is certainly encouraging news for both player and club.

“For now, the plan is probably sometime early next week,” Sale said Tuesday. “I think they want to get me past a certain point numbers-wise with weeks because with bones, it’s probably scheduled out. I think they want to get me to a certain number before I start doing that just to really give it some time.”

Sale, who turns 33 on Wednesday, initially suffered the rib injury while throwing a live batting practice session at his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University, on February 24. Due to the nature of the lockout, the Florida could not alert Red Sox coaches and staff of the injury until the work stoppage ended in early March.

It has been nearly five weeks since Sale first started feeling significant pain in the vicinity of his rib cage. At that time, the 32-year-old felt great discomfort whenever he would cough, laugh, or sneeze. Now, as noted by Cotillo, it is more of an annoyance than anything.

With that, Sale said he has been moving around more recently in an attempt to convince the Red Sox to let him throw. While that is currently on tap for next week, there is one more hurdle for the seven-time All-Star to clear, per Cotillo: “A series of tests to see how quickly he can rotate the affected area.”

If Sale passes those tests, his unspecified timetable could then come into focus. While nothing is definite yet, it is worth mentioning that the lefty does not feel as though he would have to completely restart his throwing program since he was already in a good place prior to the injury. If anything, this could just be a roadblock.

“I was in too good of a spot before all of this happened for me to feel like I’m starting back at zero,” said Sale. “I’m not starting back at 100 like if I came in here full systems go, but I’ve felt it coming back pretty quick, even through this process. I had a really good work schedule this off-season.”

To that end, Cotillo predicts that Sale could return to the Red Sox at some point in May. Until then, though, Boston will have to rely on the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha, and either Rich Hill or Garrett Whitlock to fill the void left by Sale for the time being.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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