Boston’s Chris Sale, left, walks to the dugout after being removed during the fourth inning Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds. Sale will miss at least one start. Steven Senne/Associated Press

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox placed left-hander Chris Sale on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation on Friday – another setback for the seven-time All-Star as he attempts to re-establish himself as a reliable member of the rotation.

“It’s just kind of a gut punch,” Sale told reporters before Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “I hate feeling like this. I started having fun playing baseball again. And now, back to not having fun. That sucks.”

A day after being pulled from a start in the fourth inning, Sale told reporters that doctors weren’t sure what the injury was but he didn’t expect to need surgery. Acknowledging his past injury problems, he said he had always come back before and will do so again.

“If there’s anything I can prove, it’s you’re not going to keep me down,” he said. “I’m just going to keep rolling. You knock me down I’m going to get back up. It’s obviously not where I want to be … but I’ve been through this (expletive) before.”

Friday night’s series opener with Tampa Bay was called about an hour after the scheduled first pitch and rescheduled for 4:05 p.m. Monday. The tarp was never removed from the field.

Boston right-hander Garrett Whitlock had been scheduled to face Rays righty Tyler Glasnow; the teams were already scheduled for a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, and starting pitchers for those games have not been announced.


Sale, who hasn’t had an injury-free season since 2017, essentially remained on schedule for the first two months of this season, going 5-2 with a 4.58 ERA through 11 starts. Since getting knocked around for five runs in five innings by the Guardians on April 30, he was 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.

“I was actually kind of getting used to sitting in front of you guys talking about good stuff,” Sale said. “It’s been a rocky road. I felt like I was over the hump, I really did. I felt like I was back to being myself. For something like this to happen, it’s obviously deflating.”

But he felt something wrong in the second inning of Thursday night’s start against Cincinnati and struggled through another inning-plus. He left the game in the fourth after two visits from the medical staff.

“I was raring back for 91 (mph),” he said. “That’s just not it. Ever.”

Sale had an MRI and a CT scan on Friday morning, and the team was awaiting the results.

“I have a couple more tests I have to go through until we can kind of give a definitive answer,” he said. “Still, it’s obviously not a situation you want to be in.”


Sale, 34, has been on the IL in each of the last five seasons, including missing all of 2020 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“Everything with the elbow’s fine,” said Sale, who also missed time last year because of a series of freak injuries to his rib, finger and wrist. “We’re strictly looking, pinpointing the shoulder.”

The team filled Sale’s roster spot by reinstating righty Corey Kluber from the paternity list.

Sale dominated the Reds early Thursday night, striking out six of the first eight batters despite diminished velocity in the second inning. In the fourth inning, Cora and assistant athletic trainer Masai Takahashi visited Sale in the middle of a Nick Senzel at-bat and left him in the game, but the pair soon returned to the mound and Cora pulled him.

Sale bit his glove in clear frustration as he walked to the dugout.

“I cannot be irresponsible,” Cora said after the 8-2 win. “We’ve been through this lane for a while and we know each other. Obviously, it’s not easy because of what he has gone through, but at the end, I’ve got to take care of him. I know he tries to take care of us, but it doesn’t work that way from my end. At the end, it’s Chris Sale over the Red Sox. He wanted to finish it, but nah. He gave it a shot, but then after that he came out.”

Sale’s fastball hovered in the 95-96 mph range in the first inning but dropped in the second and third, when he sat 91-93 mph. It bottomed out on his first two pitches in the fourth (89.7 mph, 89.8 mph) to Spencer Steer before he reached back and hit 95 mph later in the inning. From the dugout, the inconsistency was concerning.

“Obviously, it didn’t look great. Velo was down in the second inning,” Cora said.

“In that inning, just the way he was moving on the mound, people noticed it,” the manager added.

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