Red Sox lefty Chris Sale has avoided the worst case scenario — for now. That’s the good news. But the situation “sucks,” he acknowledged in a discussion with reporters including Ian Browne of MLB.com (links to Twitter).
Sale has not incurred new damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. But he’s still not in the clear. His most recent attempt to ramp up ran into yet more elbow trouble, casting doubt as to whether he can proceed without surgical intervention.
At this point, the veteran southpaw says, he simply doesn’t know what to anticipate. On the one hand, there’s still hope that he’ll be able to return relatively early in the 2020 season. Once the inflammation subsides in a few weeks’ time, he’ll attempt to start throwing again. If everything goes well, Sale might conceivably miss only a month or so of action.
And what if the elbow keeps barking? That would seem to put an end to the rest-and-rehab approach that he and the team have employed since last summer. Sale acknowledged that Tommy John surgery is a possibility. It isn’t entirely clear whether other surgical approaches may also be considered.
It’s a tough spot for the Red Sox, who have $145MM invested in the star southpaw for the next five seasons. Sale offered a tough self-assessment. “I was able to get through most of my career doing what I love to do and helping my team win,” he said. “For sure, over the last year and up to this point, I’ve done nothing but fall flat on my face.”
Those harsh words are surely a reflection of a trying situation. But it’s hard to fault Sale himself for the fix he’s in. He has long been durable, productive, and (by all indications) hard-working. Unfortunately, elbow woes are common for hurlers.