Red Sox Spring Baseball

Chris Sale has stopped his throwing program due to a personal medical issue. Steve Helber/Associated Press

Chris Sale’s return to the Red Sox has been pushed back.

The Red Sox lefty has experienced a non-baseball medical issue that forced him to stop throwing, Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said on Saturday. Sale is expected to begin throwing again soon.

“It’s a personal medical issue,” Bloom said. “It’s not orthopedic, it’s not COVID-related, that paused his throwing for a little while, so we want to respect the privacy that it’s not baseball-related. He should be back throwing in a matter of days, but it’s obviously slowed him down.”

Sale has been on the 60-day injured list since April 4 after he suffered a stress fracture in his right rib cage in March. Bloom said the Red Sox were originally hoping to have Sale back around when he’s first eligible on June 6, but that’s now been pushed back at least a few weeks. A late June return for Sale sounds like the best-case scenario.

Sale threw a seven-pitch bullpen on April 26, marking the first time he’s thrown off a mound since the rib injury.

RED SOX PITCHER Rich Hill and game planning coordinator Jason Varitek both have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Hill needs to return two negative tests or his CT (cycle threshold) values need to be at a certain number back-to-back days before returning.

“If that happens, then he’s clear,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said. “Now we have to go through testing and all that stuff and see when he can come back. He’s doing OK. It hasn’t been that hard.”

Varitek tested positive a few days ago.

“I talked to him this morning,” Cora said. “Feeling better.”

The Red Sox will travel to Atlanta for two games Tuesday and Wednesday, then head to Texas for three games vs. the Rangers. How does this all shake up the starting rotation?
Garrett Whitlock will start Tuesday. Nathan Eovaldi will start Wednesday.

“Then we’ll see what we do over the weekend,” Cora said. “Tanner (Houck) will be in the bullpen for the Atlanta series. We talk about how we’re going to address the whole thing. And I think where we’re at right now and obviously with Whit stretched out and us believing that Tanner can actually do what Whit was doing early in the season and what he did last year, it’s a good spot for us to put him in the bullpen and use him like a hybrid kind of guy. We still want him to get extended. It’s not a one-inning thing. It’s actually a multiple-inning reliever. So that’s where we’re at. And I don’t think he’s going to be available today. Maybe tomorrow. But obviously from Tuesday on, that’s the structure we’re going to have.”

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STARTING PITCHER James Paxton had hoped to begin throwing live BPs in early May. But he recently experienced a setback. He has posterior elbow soreness.

Paxton, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2021, has been rehabbing at the JetBlue Park complex. He was throwing bullpen sessions prior to the soreness.

“We had a little bump in the road with Pax. Just a little posterior elbow soreness that we had checked out, imaged,” Bloom said. “It doesn’t look like anything major. It’s rare you get from one end of the Tommy John rehab to the other without a little bump in the road. We initially thought that, as we’ve said originally, that his timetable would be more like Chris (Sale’s) last year. And he was actually ahead of that. That’s why you plan those timetables because you usually come to some bump in the road. So it doesn’t look like a big deal. He isn’t throwing right now. But hopefully we’ll be ramping him back up in the next couple of weeks.”

The Red Sox signed Paxton to a one-year, $10-million contract that includes two option years.


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