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Red Sox seeking a third opinion on Chris Sale’s elbow: ‘We need to get this right’

Chris Sale made 25 starts last season.
Chris Sale made 25 starts last season.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox will have to wait a bit longer on the official status of Chris Sale.

Sale, who began experiencing left elbow soreness Sunday, received an MRI Monday. Team doctors and Dr. James Andrews read the results, but manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday that the team reached out for a third opinion.

"We want to make sure that we get everybody's opinion on this," Roenicke said. "We need to get this right. It's a very important player that we want to do things the right way."

The team sent Sale’s results to Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles, and Roenicke said after Wednesday’s spring training loss to the Tigers that ElAttrache had reviewed the information but the Sox were “still gathering information and we would like to get another piece to it” from the orthopaedic surgeon.

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Later in the day, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Sale will not need Tommy John surgery, for now.

Regardless of Sale’s final diagnosis, this news is a reflection of the state of the Red Sox since the end of last season. There’s just so much gray area. Nothing concrete.

There's more uncertainty around Chris Sale's future.
There's more uncertainty around Chris Sale's future.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Just a day before pitchers and catchers reported to Fenway South, the Mookie Betts-David Price deal still wasn’t done and had to be reconfigured after the Sox took issue with Brusdar Graterol’s medical history. The deal was finally completed late that evening.

The Sox also had to find a new manager to replace player favorite Alex Cora and finally settled on Roenicke, their former bench coach. Additionally, Major League Baseball’s investigation into allegations of illegal sign-stealing by the 2018 World Series team still hover over the organization’s head, with three weeks until the start of the season..

“It’s out of our control,” Jackie Bradley Jr. said regarding the team’s murky spring. “It’s out of my control, so my focus is getting ready for the season. [The league] can take as long as they want. They’ll come up with what they come up with and we’ll go from there.”

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Sale missed the end of last season because of elbow inflammation, last pitching in a game Aug. 13 against the Indians, and hadn’t faced hitters until this past Sunday during a live batting practice session. Again, he felt pain, resulting in another MRI. More questions. More waiting.

"There's uncertainty," Roenicke said. "I guess when you go through things for a while — and he went through stuff last year — he knows obviously this is a setback for him. It's a disappointment for him."

‘“I guess when you go through things for a while — and he went through stuff last year — he knows obviously this is a setback for him. It’s a disappointment for him.”’

Ron Roenicke on Chris Sale

The Red Sox brought Sale along slowly at the start of spring training after he had a case of pneumonia. They didn’t want to cut corners on his preparation, and as a result, they announced that he would start the season on the injured list, probably missing two starts.

“Hopefully all goes well,” Xander Bogaerts said. “He’s definitely one of the best pitchers in the game. It would be really tough for him to go down, but let’s think positive that everything goes well. A pitcher of his caliber is not easy to replace."

Even if Sale comes out of this latest issue OK, it sets his timetable back even further.

“We were hoping it was just going to be 12 days,” Roenicke acknowledged. “Now it’s going to be more. So we’ve got to cover a month now instead of two weeks at the beginning.”

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The Sox will look to stretch out more pitchers during the spring, and they haven’t ruled out using openers to fill the last two spots in the rotation.

Roenicke hopes other pitchers can turn some heads and claim a starting role.

“In a couple of weeks, we’re going to have to figure that out,” said Roenicke. “I think we’re still hoping that one of these guys we’re looking at is going to wow us. That’s what we’re waiting for.”

As for Sale, Bradley didn’t want to rush to the thought of what it might be like without their ace.

“I don’t say nay or yea just because it’s too soon,” Bradley said. “We don’t know all the answers. Until we get all the concrete information, I think we should just play the waiting game.”







Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack