The Boston Red Sox will be without left-handed ace Chris Sale to start the 2022 season, as they were to start in 2021. Sale suffered a rib stress fracture before Spring Training started, five weeks ago, at a workout attended by a number of his teammates at his Alma Mater, FGCU.

The southpaw will start throwing sometime next week, he says.

“For now, the plan is probably sometime early next week,” Sale said. “I think they want to get me past a certain point numbers-wise with weeks because with bones, it’s probably scheduled out. I think they want to get me to a certain number before I start doing that just to really give it some time.”

Sale said he’s “still bracing” for coughs, sneezes, or laughs — something that hurt early on with the rib injury — but he says it’s just more of a daily annoyance now. The 33-year-old will begin the season on the injured list and is taking a day-by-day approach rather than setting a timetable, though the estimated return by many is somewhere in the range of late May.

“I’m employee No. 41. They don’t tell me that kind of stuff,” Sale said. “I leave that to them. I just show up just wheels turning, ready to go. I have a routine throughout the day and all I can keep doing is hitting those spots and force them to tell me to slow down. That’s one of my favorite things to do because that means I’m ahead of schedule.”

Without Sale, Boston’s rotation will consist of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha, and then Garrett Whitlock and or Rich Hill.

Sale says he doesn’t need to start from ground zero in his rehab due to where he was before the injury.

“I was in too good of a spot before all of this happened for me to feel like I’m starting back at zero,” he said. “I’m not starting back at 100 like if I came in here full systems go, but I’ve felt it coming back pretty quick, even through this process. I had a really good work schedule this off-season.”

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