Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale didn’t have the year he was hoping for as injuries hampered any success he may have had. Now he’s on the comeback trail.
Chris Sale is the ace of the Red Sox starting rotation and has been the one to set the tone during his time in Boston. Despite his role in the lineup he isn’t immune to injuries and has fallen to them frequently in the last year and a half.
Shoulder inflammation and a mystery stomach ailment would knock him out for much of last year and the postseason. However, an appearance in the final game of the World Series gave fans hope that his health had improved.
We would have to wait through the offseason and much of spring training until we finally saw the southpaw back on the hill. Sale was also rewarded for his time in Boston with a brand new 5-year/$145M extension that will kick in this coming season.
The extension was met with mixed reactions as many were happy to lock Sale down but his injury history had come into question with no real answers for what stopped him in 2018.
It was also a massive amount of money at a time when the Red Sox need to be saving every penny for an onslaught of megastar free agents. Either way, The Condor is now inked with the Sox for what will most likely be the remainder of his career. The 30-year-old lefty never seemed to put things together this year and became a chapter in the horror novel that was the 2019 season for Boston.
He had a few stints on the IL as well as extra days off in order to get things right and it just never clicked. Sale would show flashes of his brilliance though but they would disappear as quickly as they arrived. Inflammation would once again be the bane of Chris’ existence only this time it hindered his throwing elbow.
When the injury first popped up many in Red Sox Nation feared that he would require Tommy John Surgery. Luckily for the organization, fans, and more importantly Sale himself, that wasn’t the case.
Boston would send the lefty to visit the famed Dr. James Andrews to see what was going on in his elbow. Once TJS was ruled out Dr. Andrews went the route of a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection and rest with physical therapy. It was advised that Sale rest and heal for six weeks and then they would address the plan of attack. That day has come and with that, the Red Sox spoke about Sale’s health and what they hope for the southpaw.
"“He’s recovering well,” Red Sox co-acting GM Brian O’Halloran said. “We’re going to take everything step-by-step with Chris and he has certain checkpoints to meet as we go through the offseason. But as this point, we expect him to be healthy coming into spring training, along with the rest of the rotation we have under control.”"
O’Halloran was very optimistic that we could see Sale back on the hill for spring training and that’s a relief to many. Going into this season Alex Cora gave his starting pitchers extra rest and delayed their starts in spring. Many, including myself, questioned the process as we heard from former pitchers how hard it is to get ready for the season when you don’t have the time in spring to shake the rust off. I can’t definitively say that holding off the starters contributed to their poor campaign but it surely couldn’t have helped.
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If Boston wants to be remotely relevant next season then they’ll need Sale to be on top of his game. With the timetable up for the initial shutdown, I imagine that Sale should be meeting with Dr. Andrews in the near future to see how the elbow is healing. Hopefully, the elbow has gotten better to the point that surgery can be avoided. With David Price going under the knife recently the Red Sox can’t afford another ace going to the OR.
"“There was a range on when that could begin and we’re taking that a little bit slower than we initially anticipated just to be certain,” O’Halloran said. “Once he was totally shut down, we took a close look at his schedule and our medical staff recommended that we take it slowly just to give him as much time as possible to heal before he started throwing. But that will happen sometime in the near future.”"
O’Halloran spoke to the fact that the Red Sox want to take their time this winter with Sale’s recovery. If they rush it then he’ll most likely hit a setback, but if they take too long then we may have another year like 2019. If felt like they have a solid plan for Chris and his rehab so that he can come back strong in 2020.
The pitching staff for the Red Sox will be worse for wear come 2020 as they’ll be without Rick Porcello who is hitting free agency this winter. With Sale and Price both on the mend, the only arm they have that’s healthy right now is Eduardo Rodriguez. Based on what O’Halloran said, it seems like Boston has a strong gameplan to get their rotation as healthy as possible come spring.
Chris Sale is the ace of the Red Sox rotation and having him healthy means great things for Boston. After the disappointment that was the 2019 season, they’ll need every weapon in their arsenal to bounceback next year. Making sure their starting rotation is ready for Opening Day should be up on the importance list. This pitching staff is beyond talented and they have the credentials to back it up, and that all starts with Christopher Allen Sale.