Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale will start the 2020 season on the injured list, interim manager Ron Roenicke announced Thursday.
Sale had been recovering from a bout with pneumonia as camp broke earlier in the month, which set him back about two weeks in his preparations for the 2020 season. Because of that setback, it had already been determined that the 30-year-old would be unable to get the six spring starts the Red Sox wanted him to make before Opening Day.
Roenicke did say that the reason for Sale’s soon-to-be IL stint is completely pneumonia-related, and has nothing to do with the build-up of his arm, which is going “great.”
According to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey, Sale has “been throwing bullpens and has progressed to simulated games with a chance of appearing in his first game next week.”
Entering his fourth season with Boston, Sale is coming off an injury-shortened 2019 campaign where he made just 25 starts and threw 147 1/3 innings, the lowest totals of his career since he became a starter in 2012.
The Red Sox shut the lefty down in August due to inflammation in his left elbow, and he received a PRP injection from Dr. James Andrews that same month.
Another visit with Dr. Andrews in November resulted in Sale being cleared to throw with an eye towards spring training, so in terms of where he is at with his arm, everything appears fine.
Sale is set to earn $30 million in the first year of the five-year, $145 million extension he signed with the Sox last march.
As MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith notes, “IL stints for pitchers will increase from 10 days to 15 days this season.” Meaning that Sale will likely remain sidelined for the first two weeks of the 2020 campaign.
Sale’s absence to begin things means the Red Sox now have three viable starters — Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Martin Perez — in their rotation.
Right-hander Ryan Weber looks like an early favorite to take David Price’s spot, but who the Sox turn to to fill in for Sale will be interesting to see.