BOSTON (CBS) — There is no concrete road map back to the mound after Tommy John surgery. Everybody knows this.

That is why, in the case of Red Sox ace Chris Sale, it’s not entirely known how, when, or if he’ll be able to pitch in the majors in 2021, after he underwent the surgery last March.

READ MORE: Patriots Release Kicker Roberto Aguayo, Long Snapper Wes Farnsworth

Yet in a Boston Globe story by Alex Speier, a picture of optimism was painted for the potential of Sale joining the rotation at some point this summer.

“Already, in some corners of the Red Sox organization, excitement is coalescing about the potential for Sale and [Jarren] Duran to offer the Sox just such a mid-summer boost,” Speier wrote.

Duran is, of course, the Triple-A outfielder who’s belted seven home runs in 18 games this season. The 24-year-old may well get his call to the bigs if and when the Red Sox need a bat.

READ MORE: Celtics Host Six Players For Pre-Draft Workout, Including Auburn's Sharife Cooper And Texas A&M's Jordan Hall

Sale, though, could potentially be much more significant. The Red Sox fell out of first place this week for the first time since the early days of the season. Eduardo Rodriguez has struggled, and the Red Sox starters have a team ERA of 4.16. They’ve combined to pitch 266 innings, which is second-most in the AL, but a need for reinforcement seems inevitable.

That’s where Sale would presumably come in, though it’s no sure bet that he can make his way back to a big league mound this year.

Speier noted that the Red Sox are being extremely cautious with Sale, so as not to lead to any physical setbacks. The story noted that Noah Syndergaard, who underwent Tommy John at the same time as Sale, was pulled from his rehab start this week after one inning.

MORE NEWS: WATCH: Tom Brady Once Again Is Not Afraid Of 'The Madden Curse'

The good news for the Red Sox is that they’re only a half-game out of first place and figure to remain in playoff contention for the next couple of months. If Sale were to progress to the point of being able to pitch and pitch effectively for a team vying for the postseason, that would be even better.

CBSBoston.com Staff