Red Sox ace Chris Sale avoids Tommy John surgery – for now – but halts throwing program

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox will shut down Chris Sale for another week after tests on his sore elbow revealed a flexor strain, but no change in the condition of his ulnar collateral ligament.

The Red Sox consulted several doctors, including noted elbow surgeons Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who reviewed the MRI results and all agreed there was no need for surgery at this point.

“Obviously, there’s a huge concern on what’s going on,” interim manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday. “It’s great if this is just the bump in the road like we talk about and he comes through it and he’s fine. But we also know that because of the history that there’s a chance that maybe it doesn’t go as well as we planned and then we have to do something.”

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While throwing batting practice Sunday, the left-hander experienced soreness in his elbow, the same ailment that forced the Red Sox to shut him down for the season last August.

“It’s a gut punch. It’s a tough realization,” Sale admitted. “But I’ve said it time and time again, I have no time to hang my head. … I’ve got an uphill battle to climb, but I’ve got my climbing shoes on.”

Sale will rest his arm for a week and then resume his throwing program. If he doesn’t have any setbacks, he’ll progress to a bullpen session.

Chris Sale on not being able to pitch: “I don’t think I’ve ever let anybody down this hard … ever. That sucks.”

If everything goes well, Sale said he hopes to be ready for the start of the season – even if he doesn’t pitch on opening day. If things don’t go well, the possibility of Tommy John surgery won’t change the way he pitches.

“I can’t give this a 90% effort and be okay with that. That’s not how I’ve ever played this game,” Sale said. “Whether it works or doesn’t, I’m not afraid of the other side.”

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