Even while the Red Sox were sweeping the Orioles this weekend at Fenway, there was something of a dark cloud hanging over the team with respect to their ace Chris Sale. The lefty, after pitching well his last couple times out, reported some pain in his elbow after a couple of days to the Red Sox. They sent him for MRIs, called his injury elbow inflammation then sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. The doctor is perhaps the name most synonymous with Tommy John surgery, and given the relative underperformance from Sale this year, his recent injury history and the fact that this was an elbow injury, it was hard not to fear the worst.
On Monday, though, the team got some great news. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Andrews concurred with the team’s diagnosis and it looks like Sale should be avoiding Tommy John surgery.
This is undoubtedly a massive sigh of relief for the team and the pitcher, as it seemed extremely possible that he was going to be set to miss the entire 2020 season. Now it looks like that won’t be the case. That being said, we still know very little and are waiting to hear more information. Passan reports that the team still has not decided on a plan of action regarding rehab or a timetable to return, but should do so in the coming days.
It’s hard to pass too much judgement on what they should do, but from where we’re sitting it seems most logical to just shut him down for at least a few weeks. On the off-chance this team continues to play extremely well and the teams ahead of them in the standings falter, perhaps the course could change. If the Red Sox find themselves within two or three games in a couple of weeks, then that could be enough to get Sale back to pitching if his elbow is healthy enough. Outside of that scenario, though, the team should likely be focused on getting him to be the best and strongest pitcher he can be for the 2020 season.
Like I said, though, without all of the information it’s hard to take a hard stance on any of this. For now, we can take a deep breath and be thankful the Red Sox got some rare good news in 2019.
The Red Sox have released a statement regarding Sale’s visit to Dr. Andrews.
As you can see here, Andrews recommended a shutdown period and Sale will be re-evaluated in six weeks. That means, unless the Red Sox make a miraculous run to the postseason we’ve likely seen the last of the ace this year.