MLB Notes: Best guesses on Chris Sale’s 2021 Red Sox return date

Because there’s such a wide range of possible return dates for injured starter Chris Sale, the Red Sox are being coy about when he could make his 2021 season debut.

“You can’t take shortcuts with this process but we have every confidence he’s going to come out of this as the Chris Sale we know,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said.

Manager Alex Cora said when Sale does return, he’s only expecting him to pitch five or six innings at a time.

Pitching coach Dave Bush said he knows Sale will miss the first month of the season, but otherwise he isn’t sure when he’ll return.

“I think that goal will be clarified later on this spring, I would hope, but I don’t know exactly,” Bush said.

The likely range falls between May and August. It’s a big range. And it affects not only how successful the Red Sox will be this season, but if they’d use a five- or six-man rotation. Bush said he’s open to either but the team is currently planning to switch from a six- to a five-man rotation in a few weeks.

Typical recovery from Tommy John surgery is 12-14 months. Sale had his surgery last March. He also had a setback this winter when his neck started bothering him, but said he’s fully recovered now. A return sometime in the summer months seems likely.

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