FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox ace Chris Sale said never at any point did he really wonder if he would need surgery to repair his elbow.

The left-handed pitcher missed the final six weeks of the 2019 season (39 games) because of elbow inflammation.

Dr. James Andrews gave Sale a PRP injection Aug. 19. Andrews cleared him to begin throwing the week before Thanksgiving.

“Not really. I knew I was in good hands,” Sale said. “I knew I had gone to see the best doctor in the world for this. No one at any point was ever worried. I guess this was a major injury. But no one was ever stressed – at least in front of me. I went and saw James Andrews and he just looks at it, he’s like, ‘Yeah, man. You’ll be all right. Throw some PRP in that thing, I’ll see you in a few weeks and we’ll be good to go.’ He’s the best of the best. He can do this with his eyes closed I’m pretty sure now. When he gives you that level of confidence, it makes you feel more confident.”

Sale threw off a mound six or seven times this offseason. He said he prepared for spring training like he normally does.

“Started flipping some breaking balls and getting after it a little bit,” Sale said.

Sale also dealt with a mild case of pneumonia recently. He’s feeling better after he lost six or seven pounds. He said he ate ribs for lunch the past four days and so he’s attempting to put the weight back on.

His delay to start spring training because of being sick could cause him to miss Opening Day, interim manager Ron Roenicke said.

The Red Sox will re-evaluate the lefty every week and see how he progresses.

Sale hopes the delay doesn’t impact him being ready for the start of the 2020 regular season.

“I think I’ll be ready for Opening Day, but I don’t make the rules,” Sale said. “I’m a competitor. If the season started tomorrow, I’d tell you I could go out there and throw five or six innings. But the guys in my corner might have something different to say.”

He said he’s confidence his elbow is healthy.

“I feel better than I have in a long time, actually,” Sale said. “I’ve never taken that time off before. I don’t know if since I started baseball if I’ve had that time off.

“It’s obviously something you don’t want to go through. That was miserable. But there’s silver linings with everything. You try to take the positives in every scenario that comes up. I think that time off helped my entire body regenerate. My shoulder, my elbow, my forearm. … Every muscle in my body got a really long break in trying to heal. I think in the end, it will help me out in the long run.”

SALE ALLOWED seven earned runs and nine hits, including three homers, in 5 innings at Houston in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS.

It certainly wasn’t a normal start for the Red Sox ace who finished second for the AL Cy Young that year.

He had suspicions back then the Astros were stealing signs. MLB severely punished the Astros after a lengthy investigation this offseason for illegally stealing signs during 2017.

“Yeah, I think they ran out of fireworks in Houston,” Sale said. “That guy on the train (train in left field takes ride after every homer), I must have kept his job for another year. That was tough. I was standing out on the mound, I was like, ‘How the hell are they doing (this)?’ They’re hitting breaking balls over the fence. Hitting fastballs at their neck. And yeah, it crosses your mind. But what kind of idiot do you look like if they actually weren’t? I’m not going to sit here and say they were because I don’t have 100 percent evidence. I mean I guess there is in the investigation. But that specific scenario, I don’t know.”

Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Houston’s bench coach in 2017, said in July 2018 the Astros beat Sale by splitting the plate in half and not swinging at Sale’s inside pitches.

Sale said he also thinks he mislocated some pitches during that start.

“You kind of just chalk it up to they were a great team that year,” Sale said. “My first playoff start, I didn’t know really what I was getting myself into. It happened quick. You’re sitting in the locker room afterwards. I’m kind of like, ‘What just happened?’ Knowing what I know now, could it be? Maybe. But I’m not here to point figures. I’m not here to blame anybody. Nothing I do or say today is going to change anything from that start or 10 starts ago or eight years ago.”

RED SOX SHORTSTOP Xander Bogaerts aggravated his left ankle while jumping during offseason drills back home in Aruba a couple weeks ago.

He’ll be limited during the first few days of spring training. The Boston Red Sox’s first official full-squad workout is Monday.

“His ankle is a little bit sore,” Roenicke said. “So these couple, three days we’re probably going to go a little bit easy on him. It’s nothing alarming. But it is a little sore. So we’re going to back off on him a little bit.”

Bogaerts batted .309 with a .384 on-base percentage, .555 slugging percentage, .939 OPS, 33 homers, 52 doubles and 117 RBI during 2019.

“Spring training … there’s no reason for us to force it,” Bogaerts said. “Just trying to make sure we get it right and when I start, I can finish.”

RAFAEL DEVERS is expected to arrive to camp late because he and his girlfriend just had their second child.

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