ESPN's Buster Olney reported Monday that the team is "expected to be deliberate" in determining his return to the hill.
The 31-year-old, who is in the second year of a $145 million deal that keeps him in Boston through at least 2024, had the reconstructive procedure March 30, and pitchers usually take between 12 and 15 months to recover.
Sale was traded to the Red Sox from the Chicago White Sox in 2017. Through three seasons in Boston, he compiled a 3.08 ERA with 763 strikeouts through 84 starts, though he battled injury throughout nearly the entirety of his tenure.
After an All-Star campaign in 2017—his sixth consecutive—Sale was limited in 2018, though he managed to lead the Red Sox to a World Series title over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struggled through 2019, snapping his streak of seven consecutive All-Star nods.
In 25 starts that season, he posted a career-worst 4.40 ERA, going 6-11 with 72 earned runs. His comeback in the pandemic-shortened season didn't survive spring training. Without Sale, the Red Sox had a historically bad starting rotation.
While the Red Sox are content to start the season without their ace, the New York Mets are doing the opposite. According to Olney, the Mets are pushing Noah Syndergaard through his Tommy John return, though he had surgery around the same time as Sale.