It’s been a tough road back for Chris Sale since last August.

The Boston Red Sox left-hander saw his 2019 season end prematurely due to elbow inflammation. Even though he had some extended rest, 2020 didn’t start all that great, either.

Sale began spring training by battling pneumonia and was slated to begin the new campaign on the injured list. All signs pointed to the southpaw’s elbow being healthy … until it wasn’t.

An MRI revealed a flexor strain. But it appeared Tommy John surgery would be avoided for the time being. Sale threw his first bullpen and felt pain in the following days. And with the Major League Baseball season on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided Tommy John surgery was the best option.

But the 31-year-old “truly thought” he was “in the clear” when it came to not having the operation.

“I was ripping this thing. I was getting after it,” he said Tuesday, via The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “… I had all the confidence in the world that my arm was as good as ever.”

And his March 1 setback? “A punch to the gut,” Sale said.

The lefty now faces a lengthy recovery. And even though he won’t take the mound in 2020 if and when the season begins, it’s probably a fair assumption that Sale will give it 110 percent to get back to full health.

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