Red Sox ace Chris Sale remains secretive on status of left shoulder

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 12: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 12, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 12: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 12, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Dave Dombrowski declined to elaborate on details regarding the status of Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale’s ailing left shoulder.

Will Chris Sale be ready to go when the Boston Red Sox open the 2019 season? We can’t say for sure because the team’s ace is keeping quiet about the status of his ailing left shoulder.

Mild shoulder inflammation sent Sale to the disabled list twice this year, limiting him to seven starts and 29 innings in the second half. He was in the postseason rotation but pitched only 13 1/3 innings combined between his three starts, giving up seven earned runs. Sale also tossed a pair of scoreless innings in relief, including the final frame of the decisive Game 5 of the World Series.

The Red Sox treated their ace with kid gloves down the stretch and were careful not to lean on him heavily in the playoffs. Whether or not that trend will continue throughout next season is one of the most pressing questions lingering over the franchise this offseason.

While we’d like to believe that Sale will have plenty of time to recover this winter, Dave Dombrowski’s evasive comments at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Monday leave us to wonder about the lefty’s health.

"“Chris is an individual who is great and tremendous with us and all that,” Dombrowski said, per Masslive’s Chris Cotillo. “He’s not one that likes to share a bunch of information. That’s just the way it is. We feel very comfortable where he is. He just wants to keep it between us. So that’s where we stay with it.”"

Players are entitled to their privacy and that should be respected. That being said, providing updates on the status of the franchise’s most valuable left shoulder is an odd place to draw a line when it comes to privacy.

It’s understandable why Dombrowski declined to provide details about Sale if he’s respecting his pitcher’s wishes. The concern is why Sale feels the need to be so secretive. If Sale had been given a clean bill of health, why wouldn’t he say so in order to put an end to the barrage of questions? This isn’t a “no news is good news” situation.

There are a number of reasons why Sale and the Red Sox could be keeping updates on the lefty’s shoulder under wraps, each of which hit various levels on the panic meter.

The most likely scenario is that Sale is still dealing with some lingering soreness but they expect the issue to be cleared up by next spring. They are dodging questions in order to avoid saying something that could be misinterpreted or to protect themselves from appearing dishonest if a setback alters Sale’s status before pitchers report to camp in a couple of months.

"“We think he’s fine,” Dombrowski said. “I will tell you that I would not lie to you, so that’s another part of it. We feel very comfortable in that regard.”"

Another scenario could be that the team honestly has no idea if Sale’s shoulder woes will linger into next season. Even if it remains a concern, the team has nothing to gain by admitting it nearly four months before Opening Day. A lot can change between now and then so if Sale’s timeline is uncertain then they are better off avoiding further discussion on his status. Dombrowski technically isn’t lying in that case. He thinks Sale will be fine but won’t provide any details about where the ace is at right now.

Another factor to consider is that Sale is entering his final season before hitting free agency. If there are reasons to be worried about Sale’s shoulder, he may have asked the team to keep that information private in order to avoid raising red flags with potential suitors next winter.

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A healthy Sale leading the rotation will be vital to the Red Sox depending their championship next season. It’d also be nice to see him carry an ace-caliber workload before the Red Sox decide whether or not to commit to Sale long-term when he hits free agency. A lot is riding on Sale returning to his dominant form next season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if we’ll be getting any clarity on his health anytime soon.