Red Sox ace Chris Sale nearing return from rib injury

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO – Chris Sale will make at least one more minor league rehab start before the Boston Red Sox decide if their ace is ready to join their rotation after being sidelined all season because of a rib injury.

Manager Alex Cora said the seven-time All-Star is close to returning.

Sale struck out seven over four innings for Double-A Portland. Cora said his mechanics were sound in his third rehab outing and he felt “physically great.” The 33-year-old left-hander is scheduled to pitch for Triple-Worcester.

“We’ll see,” Cora said. “He’s getting close. We’ll talk about it and go from there.”

Sale, signed through 2024 on a five-year, $145 million deal, fractured his rib cage in spring training. He is 114-74 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,059 strikeouts over 321 big league appearances. He has thrown 42 2/3 innings for the Red Sox since the end of the 2019 season.

Sale went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts in his return from Tommy John surgery last year. He missed the 2020 season.

The Red Sox were tied for second in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays at 43-33 entering a game against the Chicago Cubs. They went 20-6 for their highest June win total since a 20-9 showing in 1990.

Boston closed the month by dropping two of three at Toronto. Outfielder Jarren Duran and closer Tanner Houck did not accompany the team because they weren’t vaccinated for COVID-19.

Duran said being away from his teammates convinced him to reconsider his stance. He vowed to be available when Boston returns to Toronto in late September. Houck wouldn’t say if he will be, too.

“I just miss the boys and miss playing baseball,” Duran said. “It’s kind of the deciding factor.”

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.