The Red Sox spent the majority of May looking comfortable with throwing Chris Sale back into the fire, allowing the veteran to pitch on regular rest and cutting their rotation down to five men.

That now looks like it’s about to change.

Sale, who has looked like Boston’s ace once again over the course of his five previous starts, left the Red Sox’s win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night at Fenway Park with what the team described as “shoulder soreness.” Boston was able to cobble together innings after he left in the fourth, earning a bounce-back victory, but the primary concern postgame related to the health of Sale.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was unable to provide a positive update.

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“It’s a sore shoulder. He’ll have an MRI (on Friday) and we’ll hope for the best,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It obviously didn’t look great. The velocity went down — I want to say in the second inning it went from 95 (mph) to 90. Let’s wait and see.”

The removal was a bit awkward, as Sale began to get hit hard in the third inning after sailing through the first two — picking up five strikeouts along the way. The 35-year-old gave up four doubles in a six batter stretch. Cora and a Red Sox trainer made a mound visit to check on Sale, but returned to the dugout and kept him out there. Sale would immediately walk Nick Senzel and get pulled after another mound visit.

There wasn’t anything to knock Sale out of the game as we’ve seen in the past, but with a rich injury history and a concerning few moments, Cora played it safe.

“The way he was moving on the mound and obviously people noticed it,” Cora said. “I can look at the velo and it’s not at 95, so like I said, we’ll check tomorrow and see where we’re at. … I cannot be irresponsible. We’ve been through this for a while and we know each other. It’s not easy because of what he’s gone through, but at the end of the day I gotta take care of him. I know he tried to take care of us, but it doesn’t work that way from my end. In the end, it’s Chris Sale over the Red Sox, I know he wanted to finish it but I can’t be responsible.”

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The Red Sox and Sale will provide more updates following his MRI on Friday.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images