Red Sox lefty Chris Sale spoke with reporters this week, acknowledging and even agreeing with some of the frustration felt by fans who suggested he could’ve had the surgery months ago (link via MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo). However, like most players, Sale viewed surgery as an absolute last resort. “Some people call it wasting time. And hey, it is,” Sale conceded. “We wasted time because the end result is Tommy John. We could have done this six months ago. Having said that, I appreciate the process and I wouldn’t have been 100% go as I was this past time. We turned over every stone. We did every possible thing we could have to prevent this. And I’m okay with that.”
With Sale shelved, the Red Sox’ rotation is going to be a patchwork unit at best, should the season eventually be played out. He’s in the first season of a five-year, $145MM contract he inked with the Red Sox last spring — a deal for which he opted in lieu of testing free agency this past offseason. The 31-year-old southpaw will miss at least the first season of that deal and some of the second, but he’s hopeful that the surgery could allow him to “get 10 more great years” out of his elbow.
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- Outfielder Kevin Pillar chatted with Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe about his revamped approach at the plate heading into the 2020 season. Long a pull-happy hitter, Pillar’s pull tendencies spiked to new heights in 2019, prompting him to refocus on taking the ball up the middle and hitting to all fields. The 31-year-old belted a career-high 21 homers last year — likely in part due to said spike in pull percentage and also due to the juiced ball — but he’s hopeful that more of all-fields approach will bring about a more well-rounded offensive game. Specifically, Pillar noted that going through the offseason and better “understanding how teams value players now” fueled his approach. Pillar, of course, was non-tendered by the Giants after racking up 21 homers, 37 doubles and four triples due in some part to his dismal .287 OBP. He eventually signed a one-year, $4.25MM deal with Boston late in the offseason.
- Infielder Jantzen Witte, in camp as a non-roster invitee with the Sox, is in many ways a microcosm of the challenges that minor league players face as a whole, writes WEEI’s Rob Bradford. A career-long minor leaguer, Witte had never earned more than $12,000 in a single season. However, he reached minor league free agency this winter and was slated to see his earnings increase considerably, even if he simply spent the year in Triple-A. Witte, though, impressed in camp and caught the eye of manager Ron Roenicke, creating the outside possibility of securing a bench spot with the club and at least putting him on the radar for a midseason call-up. Now, he’s collecting a $400 weekly stipend through the end of May — a rate that checks in under his previous $12,000 salary even when prorated for a whole season — with no clue what’ll happen thereafter (financially speaking). Bradford spoke with Witte about his efforts to remain in shape, the financial uncertainty he’s facing and the woodcarving side business he’s started up while awaiting clarity. The 30-year-old Witte hit .277/.339/.394 in Triple-A last year while playing third base, second base, first base and left field.