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How does Chris Sale’s shoulder feel? ‘Like Paul Bunyan’s ox’

Chris Sale is on schedule to return to the Red Sox in September.File/Barry Chin/Globe Staff

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Chris Sale is ready to start throwing again, telling the Globe that he will play catch on Monday for the first time since he was shut down with shoulder inflammation earlier this month.

“Getting back to it,” Sale said on Sunday after a 9-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays. “I feel good.”

Sale was put on the disabled list on July 28 after feeling unexpected soreness following a start. He returned on Aug. 12 and fired five shutout innings against Baltimore, striking out 12.

But the Sox returned Sale to the DL only three days later and he has not thrown since. The team is 5-7 since Sale last pitched.


Sale has spent the last few weeks receiving treatment and physical therapy. Asked how his shoulder feels now, the lefthander smiled.

“Like Paul Bunyan’s ox,” he said.

The buildup from playing catch to starting a major league game is likely to take at least two weeks. Manager Alex Cora has said he is confident Sale would return to the team and pitch effectively in September.

Sale is 12-4 with a 1.97 earned run average in 23 starts.

Eovaldi struggles

Nathan Eovaldi threw 15 shutout innings in his first two starts with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Rays on July 25. The hard-throwing righthander seemed like the perfect fit for a team with a hole in its rotation.

“He is who we thought he was going to be. He’s been outstanding,” Cora said after Eovaldi shut down the Yankees for eight innings on Aug. 4.

So what is he now, other than a pitcher who is giving up an alarming number of hits?

Eovaldi was hit hard again on Sunday, giving up six runs on eight hits over four innings. One of the runs was unearned.


Eovaldi has lasted only 17 innings in his last four starts and allowed 14 earned runs on 35 hits.

Catcher Sandy Leon talks with Nathan Eovaldi in the thord inning of Sunday’s loss.Steve Nesius/AP

Asked what has changed, Eovaldi said the “crisp” feeling he had has vanished.

“I’ve got to do a better job of locating when I’m ahead in the count to get quick outs,” he said.

The first inning was telling. Joey Wendle led off with a double down the left-field line. Matt Duffy reached on an infield hit and Ji-Man Choi grounded an RBI single up the middle.

A second run scored on Jake Bauers’s fly ball to deep right field.

“I felt like I made some really good pitches and they were able to put the bat on the ball and find a hole,” Eovaldi said. “That sort of set the tone for the game. I have to do a better job.”

For a pitcher with a high-end fastball, Eovaldi has struck out only 21 of the 141 batters he has faced since joining the Red Sox.

Tune-up time

Eduardo Rodriguez is set to make what the Red Sox hope will be his final minor league rehabilitation start when he pitches for Double A Portland on Monday night.

The plan is for him to pitch six innings. Rodriguez, out since July 15 with a sprained right ankle, went four innings and threw 63 pitches for Portland last Monday.

Rodriguez is 11-3 with a 3.44 ERA. Cora said Rodriguez would likely pitch against the White Sox in Chicago this weekend barring any complications.


Christian Vazquez will start his rehab assignment on Monday and catch Rodriguez. He is returning from a broken right pinky finger.

Vazquez would then join Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday and catch Steven Wright, who is lined up for two innings. Wright is returning from knee inflammation.

Vazquez will remain with the Paw Sox until he is ready to be activated.

Throw them out?

The Red Sox are 0-6 wearing the Players Weekend uniforms the last two years and have been outscored, 49-9 . . . Craig Kimbrel, who had not pitched since Aug. 18, struck out the side in the eighth inning on 14 pitches. Kimbrel has faced the Rays 28 times in his career and struck out 54 of the 105 batters he has faced . . . Rafael Devers, out with a hamstring strain, did not travel with the team. He took batting practice in the cage at Fenway on Saturday. His return date remains uncertain . . . Michael Chavis, who was promoted to Pawtucket on Friday, is 8 of 14 since with three doubles two home runs, and six RBIs . . . The Sox were 11-8 against the Rays this season but Tampa Bay held an 80-72 edge in runs . . . Rays pitchers allowed five runs over 27 innings in the series. Their pitchers have a 1.99 ERA on the last 16 games . . . There was a moment of silence before the game for Sen. John McCain, who passed away on Saturday.


Players Weekends, with the nicknamed jerseys (Flaco is J.D. Martinez), haven’t been kind to the Sox -- they are 0-6 in 2017 and ‘18,Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.