Boston left-hander Chris Sale will be sidelined until at least August because of a stress reaction in his left scapula, the latest in a series of setbacks since the Red Sox agreed to a long-term deal before the 2019 season that guaranteed him $160 million.
Sale left a June 1 start against Cincinnati in the fourth inning because of shoulder soreness, an outing in which his velocity started to drop in the third. The 34-year-old went on the 15-day injured list the following day, and Boston moved him to the 60-day IL on Friday. He won't throw for three to four weeks, and the earliest he can return is Aug. 1.
"Now we've just got to be patient," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before a series opener at the New York Yankees. "No surgical procedure, and that's huge for us."
Kutter Crawford likely will take a turn in the rotation Tuesday against Colorado.
As part of a flurry of moves, pitcher Matt Dermody was designated for assignment, a day after he made his first major league start and said he regretted posting an anti-gay tweet two years ago.
Boston also activated outfielder Adam Duvall from the 60-day injured list after he recovered from a broken left wrist and selected the contract of left-hander Joe Jacques from Triple-A Worcester.
Sale is 16-15 with a 4.21 ERA in 47 starts since agreeing in March 2019 to a deal that added $145 million over five years through 2024. He had been an All-Star for seven straight seasons at the time of the contract, going 103-62 with a 2.89 ERA in his first nine big league seasons.
Sale was limited to one start from late July to mid-September in 2018 because of shoulder inflammation, then returned and helped the Red Sox win the World Series.
He didn't pitch after Aug. 13 in 2019 because of left elbow inflammation, missed all of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season following Tommy John surgery that sidelined him until Aug. 14, 2021, and didn't pitch until July last year because of a stress fracture in a rib on his right side. He returned for two starts, then broke his left pinkie when hit by a line drive off the bat of the Yankees' Aaron Hicks. Before Sale could return from that, he broke his right wrist in a bike accident.
"He's used to it," Cora said. "He's been through a lot since 2018. ... It takes a toll."
Sale is 5-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 11 starts this season.
"In the beginning it was a little bit rough, but it was part of the progression," Cora said. "When he got going, it was very close to the guy that pitched in '17 and '18 here. Velocity was up, the slider was getting there and the changeup was a work in progress. And he dominated big league lineups."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.