BOSTON (CBS) — Even if Major League Baseball returns to action this season, Chris Sale will not be participating. But the Red Sox lefty, who is in the early days of his recovery from Tommy John surgery, was fairly upbeat on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

“I have a lot of confidence going forward to know that my elbow is going to be better than before,” Sale told reporters. “I have a chip on my shoulder.

“Well, I guess I have a chip in my elbow, too,” he joked, adding that he’s developed a mean right-handed cutter when playing Wiffle Ball with his kids since his surgery.

Sale is expected to be sidelined up to 15 months after undergoing the famous surgery to replace the ligament in his left elbow. There is a lot of controversy surrounding Sale and the Red Sox waiting to send him under the knife, something that was possible as far back as last August, and again over the offseason this winter. But he and the team explored every option to avoid the procedure — and the long rehab that goes with it. Sale believed he was in the clear when he reported to spring training and felt good to go.

But following his first bullpen of the spring, the pain was back. After an MRI and a few opinions on the matter, Sale and the Red Sox decided on a two-week shutdown instead of surgery. He experienced more pain when he began to throw again, and at that point, there was no other option. Sale said he was OK with all sides trying to turn over every stone to avoid the procedure.

Now a long road back to baseball is in front of him, but Sale isn’t letting that lengthy rehab dampen his spirits. At the advice of teammate Nate Eovaldi, who has undergone the procedure twice in his career, he’s going to set little goals along the way.

He hopes to hit his first little goal later this week. He’ll get out of his cast and begin his rehab on Thursday. He would like to rehab at JetBlue Park, which isn’t far from his Florida home, but he doesn’t think that will be an option with the country in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he’ll rehab at home with the Red Sox medical staff via FaceTime.

The controversy around Sale’s surgery doesn’t end at the Red Sox delaying the inevitable. He underwent the procedure in California when the state was limiting elective surgeries during the pandemic. Sale said that Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery, and his staff were having daily conference calls to make sure that performing Sale’s surgery would not affect anybody else dealing with the virus.

To add another layer of controversy, Sale added that he was tested for coronavirus before undergoing his surgery. That probably won’t sit well with all the people who struggled to get tested at that time.

Sale, who dealt with pneumonia earlier in spring training, at one point wondered if he had coronavirus, since he had a lot of the same symptoms. But he later dismissed it, saying he would have passed it along to his family and teammates, which did not happen.