Red Sox lefty Sale dealing with setback after rib fracture

BOSTON (AP) — Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale suffered a setback in his recovery from a fractured rib cage suffered in late February, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said before Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

“He’s had a small, it’s a personal medical issue — it’s not orthopedic, it’s not COVID-related — that paused his throwing for a little while,” Bloom said.

“It’s not baseball-related,” he added. “He should be back throwing in a matter of days.”

When asked if that will push Sale’s potential return from the 60-day injured list in early June to later that month, Bloom said: “I think, roughly speaking, we were hoping to have him back around when he was eligible. I think we’re talking a few weeks (later) — that’s to have him back to start a major league game.”

The Red Sox signed Sale to a five-year, $145 million contract in March 2019. Since then, he went just 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in ’19 before he had Tommy John surgery on his 31st birthday — March 30, 2020.

Last season, he went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in just nine games.

Bloom also discussed the poor start by the last-place Red Sox (10-17), who had lost 12 of their last 16.

Mainly, he felt, the weakness has been Boston’s poor offense, which entered Saturday 25th in the majors in runs per game.

“The record speaks for itself,” he said. “We all thought, and still do, that that’s going to be a strength and we haven’t got there yet. It really has been up and down the lineup. There’s a lot of guys that aren’t performing as they expect, and we expect.”

The Red Sox were a surprise last season, winning a wild-card game against the Yankees and beating AL East champion Tampa Bay in four games in the divisional round before losing to Houston in six games in the AL Championship Series. They entered Saturday nine games behind the first-place Yankees.

“That’s real. We’ve dug ourselves a hole, no question,” said Bloom, in his second season with the Red Sox. “We haven’t played well. Panic’s not going to help. We have to play better. We’ve put ourselves in that situation. There’s a difference in urgency and panic. We have to show more urgency.”

NOTES: Bloom said LHP James Paxton, recovering from Tommy John surgery, hit a “little bump in the road, elbow soreness that we had checked out. It doesn’t look like anything major.” … LHP Rich Hill, put on the COVID-19 related injured list on Friday, tested positive, manager Alex Cora said before the game.

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