BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale, in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches of his career, reluctantly went on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with mild inflammation in his left shoulder.
The move was made retroactive to Saturday, and Sale will miss his scheduled start on Thursday night against the Yankees. Lefty Christopher Johnson will start in his place in the opener of the four-game rivalry series.
Sale is hopeful he will miss just the one start and make his turn in the rotation the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list, which is Aug. 7 in Toronto.
"It's not easy," said Sale. "I was pretty upset when the final decision was made. At the end of the day though, I've got to do what's best for not only the team but myself. I don't think me going out there not at 100 percent is going to help us. I think if I did go out there, I'd probably risk something more severe that wouldn't do any good, either.
"Like I said, it's a pretty crappy situation to be in, and I don't like it at all. I'm a pitcher that pitches. I don't like sitting on the sidelines watching somebody else do my job for me. But it happens. You deal with it. Keep your chin up and keep grinding, keep working. And get back out there in Toronto."
There was no indication anything was bothering Sale over his last five starts, when he went 5-0 with a 0.23 ERA and had 67 strikeouts in 39 innings.
"Over the last couple starts, just kind of normal soreness, then in the same general areas it was just a little bit more than I'm used to after a start," said Sale. "It just kind of built up over the last couple outings. I said something and they, you know, said they wanted to give it a little bit more time."
Where exactly is the soreness?
"More just general shoulder area," Sale said. "That being said, I'm not too worried about this. I know that we're the Boston Red Sox and all this other stuff, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm very optimistic that this is going to be a very short stint on the DL. But, you know, with it being the DL, people get kind of antsy. But I'm not worried about it at all."
If this was October -- or if the pennant race was a little tighter right now -- Sale thinks he could pitch. After Tuesday's Boston 3-1 loss coupled with the Yankees' win, the Red Sox lead New York by five games in the AL East.
"I feel like if we were in a different position and push came to shove and they needed to go out there, I would be able to make this next start," said Sale. "I would be pitching in two days. Fortunately for us we have a very deep team. Our guys, we trust everybody equally around here. So they thought it would be best to have Brian step in and make that start."
Due to Sale's importance to the team, the Red Sox weren't going to take any chances. This is the third time Sale has been on the DL in his career, and first since 2015.
"I know he's discouraged because he rarely goes on the disabled list and rarely misses a start, but these things happen throughout the season," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "We've been very careful [with his workload]. It doesn't mean that when you're being careful that things still don't happen. It's part of dealing unfortunately with the rigors of baseball."