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When will Chris Sale pitch for Red Sox this season?

The lanky left-hander is dealing with a stress fracture in his right rib cage.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Five Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

June 5 update: Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe reported on Sunday that Sale will have a bullpen session on Tuesday before throwing in a live batting practice this Friday. The seven-time All-Star had a few bullpen sessions this past week, inching him closer to a potential return sometime this season.

The Boston Red Sox announced on March 16 that starting pitcher Chris Sale had a stress fracture in his right rib cage and would not be available on Opening Day.

Chris Sale injury update

There wasn’t a firm timetable for Sale’s return at that point. Nearly three weeks later and with the regular season at our doorstep, there still isn’t much clarity as to when Sale will pitch again.

We do know, however, that time won’t come before June. That’s because Boston placed their ace left-hander on the 60-day injured list Monday. Sale underwent an MRI last week that showed “some healing,” according to manager Alex Cora, but the situation is still very much in the wait-and-see stage.

Sale overpowered much of the American League from 2010-18 split between the White Sox and Red Sox. He had a 2.89 ERA and a strikeout rate north of 30% over that span. Since 2019, Sale’s ERA has risen (4.12), and his K rate fell to 28.4% last year. He also missed the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

With the 33-year-old Sale out indefinitely, Nathan Eovaldi will take the reins as Boston’s Opening Day starter. He had a career-best season in 2021 as he became an All-Star for the first time and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. The Red Sox will have high-upside 2021 rookie Tanner Houck behind Eovaldi as well as veterans Nick Pivetta, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill.

If Houck or Pivetta can’t build upon their efforts from last year, that will put a large burden on Eovaldi to replicate his success for as long as Sale is out.

How long will Sale be out? At least two months. And at most, no one either knows or isn’t saying.