FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox placed Chris Sale and his fractured right rib on the 60-day injured list Monday, ruling him out of action until at least June.
Sale injured his rib Feb. 24 while throwing during the lockout. At the start of spring, the expectation was the lefthander would miss at least the first three weeks of the season, though the team didn’t firmly commit to a timetable. Yet Sale hasn’t thrown in nearly six weeks.
The 60 days only include time during the season, thus ensuring he’ll miss two months.
Manager Alex Cora said prior to the team’s 2-0 Grapefruit League loss to the Twins that Sale and James Paxton, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery last April, will likely stay back in Fort Myers for the road games against the Yankees and Tigers, but join the team for the home opener at Fenway against Minnesota on April 15.
Sale, who underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020, has pitched just 42⅔ innings since Aug. 14, 2019.
Tanner Houck turns in best start of spring
Tanner Houck ended his spring on a positive outing, going six innings and surrendering five hits and two runs while striking out seven. Both of the runs came on solo homers.
“I felt like I’ve gotten better each time out,” said Houck, who is slated to start Sunday evening at Yankee Stadium. “The first time, I struggled. Next time, I struggled still. But if you continue to show up each day, put the work in, things are eventually going to turn around.”
Houck said all spring he felt too rotational during his delivery, not directing the energy toward his back leg when going through his motion, causing his arm to drag. He feels as if dry reps helped fix the issue.
“A lot of it was just taking it day by day and really just controlling my body and myself,” Houck said.
Crawford, Danish makes Sox
Kutter Crawford knew time was running out heading into the 2021 season. Crawford underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2019. There was no need to rush that recovery process due to COVID-19 and the 2020 minor-league shutdown, so Crawford added muscle and bulk during his rehab.
But 2021 marked his fourth season with the organization, meaning he would be Rule 5 Draft eligible if the Sox left him unprotected.
“I know we have a short leash to play this game,” Crawford said last year as a member of the WooSox. “I want to maximize it as much as possible and I got to a point where it’s now or never.”
Ultimately, the Sox called up Crawford for a September start as they went through their battle with COVID-19. He allowed five runs in two innings, but Cora encouraged him to keep pushing, and that he was a big-league pitcher who would help them.
On Monday, he announced Crawford had made the team and will serve as a multi-inning reliever.
“We’ve been talking about him the entire camp,” Cora said. “Stuff-wise, he’s up there. He worked hard. He earned it.”
Also Monday, the Sox selected Tyler Danish to the major league roster. The 27-year-old righthander, a non-roster invite to camp, got his lone major-league experience in 13 innings with the White Sox from 2016-18. He spent the last three seasons in the Seattle and Angels’ systems.
The Sox reassigned outfielders Rob Refsnyder, Franchy Cordero, and righthander John Schreiber to the minor leagues. That brought the active roster to 30 (including non-roster invitees Travis Shaw and Hansel Robles), meaning two more cuts will be needed to reach 28 for Thursday’s opener.
Rich Hill a starter, for now
Rich Hill will begin the season as the No. 5 starter, with a stretched-out Garrett Whitlock likely paired with him in a multi-inning relief role. Hill is scheduled to start the second game against the Tigers, a week from Tuesday. Cora said Whitlock will be in the bullpen for Opening Day in New York as well . . . Robles pitched an inning in relief, reaching 96 mph with his fastball and striking out two. There’s a strong possibility he makes the team despite arriving late due to visa issues, Cora said. Prior to his relief appearance, Robles said that he felt great. The team will keep a close eye on him Tuesday, seeing how his body responds to the outing . . . Lefthander Jay Groome and righthander Brayan Bello were transferred from Triple A Worcester to Double A Portland . . . Gates at Yankee Stadium will open at 11 a.m. Thursday, with pregame ceremonies to start at 12:30 p.m. Broadway actress Shoshana Bean will perform the national anthem, and actor Billy Crystal will deliver the first pitch.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.