Chris Sale’s road back to the Red Sox could begin next week
In what should’ve been the best spring training that Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale has had in years he was hit with the same news that has plagued him for some time now. Another injury and a trip to the Injured List derailed a winter of preparation and delayed his regular-season debut. It felt like we may have seen the return of The Condor back to form for Opening Day, but those hopes are long gone.
A little over a month ago, it was reported that he’d be put on the shelf thanks to a stress fracture in his ribs that occurred during workouts at FGCU. We did get a bit of news from the southpaw as he spoke to the media today and things seem to be pointing in the right direction as far as his return is concerned. He and the Red Sox are targeting next week to begin throwing and assessing what the roadmap will be for his comeback.
"“For now, the plan is probably sometime early next week,” Sale said. “I think they want to get me past a certain point numbers-wise with weeks because with bones, it’s probably scheduled out. I think they want to get me to a certain number before I start doing that just to really give it some time.”"
As it stands now, a safe bet would be late May or early June for his return but as we all know with those types of injuries, anything can throw a monkey wrench in those plans. One bad sneeze, or picking up his son at the wrong angle, hell even grabbing a bag of groceries too fast could set him back. Sale made it known that much of the pain has subsided and it’s now more of a nuisance. He won’t be going 0-60 anytime soon but he did say he plans to push his progress.
Red Sox Nation is more than familiar with what could be in-store for Sale as he begins his road back to the team. Now, this isn’t as severe as returning from Tommy John surgery but it surely won’t be easy for the southpaw either. If he is able to start throwing from flat ground next week without any setback we could see him taking to the mound hopefully soon.
"“I’m employee No. 41. They don’t tell me that kind of stuff,” Sale said. “I leave that to them. I just show up just wheels turning, ready to go. I have a routine throughout the day and all I can keep doing is hitting those spots and force them to tell me to slow down. That’s one of my favorite things to do, because that means I’m ahead of schedule.”"
He dazzled during his rehab stints in the minors last season and then stormed back to the majors as if he never left. He may not have gone as long into some games as he would’ve liked but a 3.16 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.336 WHIP, and 4.33 SO/W were pretty damn good. Oh yeah, he also added ANOTHER immaculate inning to his resume, tying him for the most all-time at three, with Sandy Koufax.
Being able to come back from what he did and performing how he did has me very optimistic for what he can do in 2022. If holding him off for a few months in order to make sure the ribs are fully healed and we won’t see any setbacks is more than fine in my eyes. The Red Sox had to put the stoppers on him last season to make sure he was ready to go and healthy and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a similar tactic this year.
"“I was in too good of a spot before all of this happened for me to feel like I’m starting back at zero,” he said. “I’m not starting back at 100 like if I came in here full systems go, but I’ve felt it coming back pretty quick, even through this process. I had a really good work schedule this off-season.”"
If Boston wants to get back to where they finished 2021 or beyond that mark, they need a fully healthy Chris Sale. It’s been some time since he was able to go wire to wire in a season without some sort of injury so maybe we’ll get lucky and this will be it for him. The Red Sox will be able to put a bandaid on the starting rotation until he can return full-time but having a full-strength Boogeyman is the key to their success in 2022.