Red Sox ace Chris Sale has been cleared to begin throwing again after a visit with Dr. James Andrews, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI Radio. The goal is for Sale to be a full go for Spring Training in a few short months. Sale’s latest visit to the physician comes as a follow-up to an August appointment in which Sale received a platelet-rich plasma injection.
The Red Sox had originally expected to have their star lefty re-evaluated six weeks after the fact, but their early departure from the playoff picture allowed them to play it slow when it became apparent that Sale wouldn’t be needed in October. So the prolonged timeline is not reflective of Sale’s progress; assistant GM Brian O’Halloran said that “the rehab has gone very well and Chris is exactly where we want him to be.”
Sale missed all of September and much of August after encountering problems with his throwing elbow, landing on the injured list after experiencing inflammation in the wake of an August 13 start.
Even when he was healthy, Sale wasn’t himself, finishing the season with a 4.40 ERA, the worst mark of his career. His peripheral numbers were more in line with his career norms, but that did little to mitigate concerns about diminished fastball velocity. Luckily, it seems that Sale’s early-season dip in velocity was unconnected to the elbow injury, which is believed to have surfaced in August.
Still, any unanswered questions will be magnified by Sale’s hefty price tag, with a five-year contract extension worth $145MM taking effect in 2020, when Sale will earn $30MM. He’ll earn similar salaries through his age-35 season. From a financial perspective, Sale’s injury concerns could hardly have come at a worse time, but it seems there’s hope that Sale’s 2019 injuries won’t linger into the offseason and beyond. He didn’t suffer any ligament damage, and today’s update should inspire some optimism that Sale will once again be a stalwart in the Boston rotation and return to the Cy Young form that he maintained for the better part of a decade.