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Chris Sale has stress fracture in rib cage, won’t be ready for start of season

The Red Sox will go into the regular season without one of their best starting pitchers.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) walks off of the field after being taking out of the game during the sixth inning of game five of the 2021 ALCS against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale suffered a stress fracture in his rib cage and will not be ready for the start of the regular season, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Red Sox general manager Chaim Bloom said on Wednesday that it will take weeks and not days for Sale’s potential return, per Jahmai Webster.

This is a significant blow to the Red Sox, who were for Sale to lead their rotation this season after returning from Tommy John surgery late last season. The 32-year-old southpaw made his return to the field in mid-August and went 5-1 with an ERA of 3.16 in nine starts.

When healthy Sale is one of the better pitchers in the American League, let alone the majors. He’s been named to the MLB All-Star Game several times and has been in the running for the AL Cy Young award for several years. Boston will likely give the ball to Nathan Eovaldi on Opening Day, who had a solid 2021 season and carried the rotation.