FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox have placed ace Chris Sale on the 60-day IL.

The clock for that stint begins Thursday on Opening Day. So the earliest Sale will return to pitch in a major league game is June 6.

Sale has yet to begin throwing again after suffering a stress fracture in his right rib cage.

This past Thursday marked five weeks since Sale suffered the injury during a live batting practice he was throwing at Florida Gulf Coast University during the MLB lockout. A follow-up MRI on Friday showed “some healing.”

The Red Sox will have to make it work without their ace for at least the first two months.

Nathan Eovaldi will start Opening Day. Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill also will be in the starting rotation. Garrett Whitlock will pitch out of the bullpen for now but he will remain stretched out in case he’s needed to start games.


The Red Sox initially planned to use Houck as a piggyback pitcher on the days Sale started.

Sale could not inform the Red Sox about his injury until MLB lifted its lockout.

He missed the entire shortened 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He missed the first four-plus months of 2021 before returning Aug. 14. He finished last season with a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings during the regular season. He then allowed 10 runs (eight earned) in 9 innings over three postseason starts.

THE RED SOX Opening Day roster – and the roles of their 28-man group to start the season – is coming into focus.

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora announced Monday morning his plan for the final spot in the starting rotation – at least for the first game. Hill will start next Tuesday in Detroit, while Garrett Whitlock will be in the bullpen.

Cora also said that reliever Kutter Crawford – who has impressed this spring – will make the Opening Day roster for Thursday’s opener in New York against the Yankees.


With Sale and James Paxton out to start the season, Cora was using the spring to determine how he’ll handle the fifth spot in the rotation. With both Hill and Whitlock stretched out, Cora likes the idea of piggybacking Whitlock – who excelled out of the bullpen as a rookie last season – behind the veteran Hill. Whitlock will also be available out of the bullpen on Thursday.

“I’m not gonna tell (Yankees Manager Aaron Boone) how we’re going to use (Whitlock), but we’ll try to stretch him out and go from there,” Cora told reporters in Fort Myers. “We have to do this. We have to keep six guys stretched out because of the nature of the schedule.”

“We can be creative in a sense. Both of them, they’re going to be a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Pairing the left-handed Hill and right-handed Whitlock together will give opposing lineups a different look, too, though Cora insisted that the two being stretched out and able to give the Red Sox multiple innings is more important.

“For me, it really doesn’t matter,” Cora said. “But I think the fact that Rich, obviously if you’re going to start thinking about managers and the way people do things, people are gonna mix and match with them and they’re the total opposite numbers-wise. Garrett had trouble with lefties last year and he’s gonna face a lot of righties. It makes sense putting them together and using them the right way, but at the same time, understanding that it’s not only for matchups, this is actually to keep them where we want to length-wise and thinking about the now but also the future of this season.”

The 26-year-old Crawford – who made his big-league debut last season after having Tommy John surgery in 2019 – was admittedly an afterthought to Cora when camp started this spring. But a string of good performances – including two shutout innings against the Pirates last week, when his fastball velocity hit 97 mph – was enough to earn him a spot in the bullpen.

“He worked hard,” Cora said. “He earned it. Coming into the situation, probably early in camp, he had no chance probably. I don’t want to say it that way but it was a guy, we look at him probably better off go to Triple-A and all that but he kept pushing and pushing and the more we talked about our rotation and what we’re trying to accomplish early on in the season and throughout the season, he made a lot of sense. And the way we’re going to use him, we’re going to keep using him in multiple innings. … We’ll use him the way we use him but he did an amazing job. We’re very proud of him.”

According to a report from The Athletic, outfielder Rob Refsnyder will not make the Opening Day roster and will report to Triple-A Worcester to start the season. That seems to suggest that the Red Sox are comfortable enough with Christian Arroyo seeing time in right field, a position he’s been learning the last few weeks.

Cora said the Red Sox are close to finalizing their 28-man Opening Day roster, which he said earlier in camp will include 13 position players and 15 pitchers.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.