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Red Sox lefthander Chris Sale suffers non-baseball medical setback

The Red Sox placed Chris Sale on the 60-day injured list prior to the regular season because of a right rib cage fracture.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Chris Sale (right rib cage fracture) had a setback that stalled his throwing progression, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom announced Saturday afternoon prior to the team’s 3-1 10-inning loss to the White Sox at Fenway Park.

Bloom said the setback was not related to Sale’s injury, calling it a non-baseball medical issue that is personal. The Sox did not elaborate, other than to indicate it was not COVID-related.

“He should be back throwing in a matter of days, but it’s obviously slowing him down,” Bloom said.

The Sox placed Sale on the 60-day injured list prior to the regular season. They had planned on activating the lefthander around June 7. That date has now been pushed back.

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“I think we’re talking a few weeks in total beyond that,” Bloom said. “It could be a little past [late June]. I don’t know exactly.”

Sale had been throwing short bullpen sessions leading up to the setback. He has pitched just 190 innings since the start of 2019 and underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

Garrett Whitlock in rotation

The Red Sox officially moved Garrett Whitlock to the rotation for now. Tanner Houck will remain in the bullpen. Whitlock has made three starts this year. Wednesday’s against the Angels was his best. The righthander went five innings, striking out nine without allowing a base runner until the fifth.

Whitlock was the Sox’ best reliever last year, and continued that into this season. Whitlock could continue to be a lockdown reliever in a bullpen that blew its major league-leading ninth save Saturday, but for now the team feels he’s better suited for the rotation.

“What we really need is a machine that can clone him,” Bloom said. “There’s just one of him. It is important to me that we don’t bounce him around too much. And I think with the bullpen role that he was filling it is not too dissimilar to what he’s doing right now, it’s a little less frequent, a little more length.”

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The Sox still see Houck as a starter in the long term. His being unvaccinated against COVID-19 and unable to pitch in Torontodid not play into the decision.

“We’re trying to set this up to give us a chance to win as many games as we can,” Bloom said.

Jarren Duran return short-lived

The Jarren Duran redemption tour lasted just one game. Kiké Hernández was activated from the COVID-19 injured list, going 0 for 4 with a strikeout, and Duran was optioned back to Triple A Worcester.

Duran has a .397 average with a .478 on-base percentage and two homers for the WooSox. He’s made adjustments to his swing, not selling out for power and instead focusing on hitting the ball to all fields and utilizing his speed. It’s an approach manager Alex Cora believes is more in line with the type of player Duran is.

“He’s not caught up in hitting the ball in the air and hitting home runs,” Cora said. “Now he understands what he has to do. And he is a guy that if it happens, he’s going to be a leadoff guy at this level.”

Duran was 1 for 4 with a triple in Friday’s 4-2 loss to the White Sox.

COVID-19 issues

Rich Hill tested positive for COVID-19 along with game planning coordinator/catching coach Jason Varitek. Whitlock will start in Hill’s place Tuesday at Atlanta followed by Nate Eovaldi on Wednesday.

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Bump in road for James Paxton

James Paxton (Tommy John surgery) had a minor setback due to left posterior elbow soreness and was shut down. The Red Sox hope to get him going again soon. “It doesn’t look like anything major,” Bloom said. “It’s rare that you get from one end of a Tommy John rehab to the other without a little bump in the road.” Paxton had been throwing off a mound but wasn’t throwing live batting practices … The Red Sox signed righthander Carlos Martinez to a minor league deal. Martinez, 30, pitched nine seasons with the Cardinals. He is a two-time All-Star with a 3.74 ERA. Martinez went 4-9 with a 6.23 ERA in 16 starts last year.


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