Red Sox’ Chris Sale to Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, the team officially announced Thursday.

This news comes one day after it was reported by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that Sale had recently begun another throwing program in Fort Myers nearly three weeks after throwing to live hitters for the first time since last year at the beginning of the month.

The day after throwing that live bullpen session, Sale began to feel discomfort in the same left elbow he had issues with in 2019, and the results of his MRI revealed a flexor tendon strain. Those results were sent over to esteemed sports medicine specialists Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neil ElAttrache, but neither doctor recommended surgery at the time and instead prescribed Sale with rest since his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) was “unchanged”, per interim manager Ron Roenicke.

While speaking with reporters in a conference call on Thursday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained that Sale began throwing again last Friday, then threw a light session on Sunday, but had to be shut down while throwing outside on Tuesday due to the pain he felt in that elbow. That’s how the decision for the left-hander to go under the knife was reached.

According to Bloom, the date for Sale’s surgery has not yet been set, but he does “expect it to be soon, in the fairly near future.”

The recovery time for a pitcher undergoing Tommy John surgery is typically anywhere between 12 to 15 months, so depending on when Sale does have it, he will miss the entirety of the 2020 season, whenever that starts, as well as some time in 2021.

Sale, who turns 31 later this month, is set to earn $30 million this season in the first year of the five-year, $145 million contract extension he signed with Boston last March.

The Florida native missed the final six weeks of the 2019 campaign due to inflammation in his left elbow and dealt with a bout of pneumonia right around the time camp broke this year.

Without Sale in their plans, the Red Sox’ starting rotation will be composed of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Martin Perez. Outside of those three, Ryan Weber had looked solid in his handful of spring starts, while Roenicke also mentioned Brian Johnson and an opener as potential rotation options on Thursday.

“”It’s never just about one season. We’re always going to make sure we’ll bolster our long-term outlook as well,” Bloom said in regard to this year’s Red Sox. “Losing Chris for 2020 isn’t going to make our task any easier.”

Red Sox Should Wear Red Alternate Jerseys on the Road in 2020

When baseball does finally return this year, the Red Sox should try something new and wear their red alternate jerseys on the road. It would look something like this:

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

I say this because before spring training games were suspended last week, the Sox wore their red tops with their grey pants for every single game away from JetBlue Park, and quite honestly, I thought it was a sharp look.

From what I recall, I don’t think the Red Sox have ever wore their red tops on the road during the regular season or postseason. That look is typically reserved for Friday night home games or a doubleheader at Fenway Park.

The same goes for the navy blue tops as well in that they are reserved for Friday night games on the road.

But, as recently as the 2018 postseason, that pattern seemed to cease under former manager Alex Cora, who appeared to let whoever that day’s starting pitcher was choose which jersey to wear. A prime example of this is how Eduardo Rodriguez went with the red or blue tops for the majority of the 34 starts he made last year.

Another factor here is that the red tops the Red Sox wore during spring training this year included the player’s last names on the back unlike the alternate home jerseys they have worn in years past.

That may be the case becuase Nike is the new uniform provider for Major League Baseball, but according to MLBShop.com, it looks like the Sox’ red alternates will not include last names once again.

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They could still wear these at home, but why not go with the spring training version for regular season games on the road in 2020? Sure, the front of the jersey would read ‘Red Sox’ opposed to ‘Boston’, but in today’s day and age, I don’t think that matters as much anymore.

Wearing red on the road would provide the Red Sox with a new look, which makes perfect sense since the 2020 team will surely be deemed ‘the new-look Red Sox’ to at least begin the season.

Major League Baseball Places Temporary Ban on All Scouting Activity

Major League Baseball is temporarily prohibiting all scouting activity on both the domestic and international level, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Per Rosenthal, no public or private tryouts will be permitted, while amateur games, showcases, workouts, and in-home or in-person visits are off limits as well. This has been done because Major League Baseball “does not want any clubs seeking a scouting advantage over any other.”

With the amateur draft set to take place from June 10th through the 12th, it appears that the league is trying to be as cautious as possible in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

The draft, which had been done at MLB Network’s studious in Secaucus, New Jersey since 2009, was set to take place in Omaha, Nebraska, the host city of the annual College World Series, this year.

But, with the NCAA announcing last Thursday that all remaining winter and spring championships had been cancelled due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, that went for the College World Series as well.

Although nothing has been made official yet, it doesn’t make too much sense anymore to hold the amateur draft in Omaha when nothing will be going on there by the time June rolls around.

In this case, though, the logistics of when and where the draft will take place are not all that important. It’s the events leading up to the event that I am now more interested in.

Why is that? Because with high school and collegiate athletics seemingly being shut down across the country, MLB clubs no longer have the chance to scout and evaluate potential targets after sending their scouts back home.

Of course, these same teams are diligent in the pre-draft process and presumably already have plenty of information on plenty of prospects from previous seasons.

But, as Tigers general manager Al Avila told The Athletic’s Keith Law, “The unfortunate part is if you had the rest of March/April/May, there’s some players you may have not liked, didn’t have as high, all of a sudden they had a really good spring to elevate them, and some players maybe would have fallen a little bit. it doesn’t happen that drastically that many times, (but) we can only go on the information we have now.”

If the draft does still take place in June, and some executives suggested to Law that it be pushed back, it would be interesting to see how teams approach it given the reality that it really is just a crapshoot that also involves millions in signing bonuses.

Narrowing things down to just the first round of the draft, the Red Sox have had a diversified approach of taking both high school and college players with their first selection in recent years.

Of course, former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon was Boston’s first pick in 2019 despite being drafted in the second round. That was related to luxury tax penalties from 2018.

This year, the Sox are set to make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer. This is not to say that Bloom is solely responsible for draft preparations, but I would assume that he has final say in who the team drafts over that three-day span in June, or whenever it takes place.

‘Overwhelming Majority’ of Red Sox Players Have Reportedly Left Fort Myers or Will Be Leaving Soon Due to Coronavirus Concerns

An ‘overwhelming majority’ of Red Sox players have reportedly already left Fort Myers or are planning to do so soon, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Per Abraham, the Red Sox feel “it’s best for players, coaches., etc. to go home” while a “small staff will be at Fenway South for any who do stay.”

This news comes on the same day Major League Baseball sent a memo to all 30 clubs stating that, “40-man roster players must be permitted to remain at the club’s spring training site, and are eligible to receive their usual spring training allowances…We understand that many 40-man roster players have chosen to remain in camp to date, but we anticipate that may change in the coming days as events continue to unfold and players become better educated about current conditions.”

In regard to non-roster and other minor-league players not on a club’s 40-man roster, those players “should return to their off-season residences to the extent practical. If it is not feasible for a non-roster player to return home, which may be the case for some international players or players who reside in high-risk areas in the United States, clubs should work with the player to provide suitable accommodations. Non-roster players who require ongoing treatment from the club’s medical personnel may remain in order to receive treatment.”

With Major League Baseball suspending spring training and pushing back the start of the regular season by at least two weeks on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, it’s not all that surprising to see more measures being taken less than four days later with more likely to come this week.

On the same day the above memo was sent to all 30 clubs, a Yankees minor-league player tested positive for COVID-19, leading the team to quarantine all of it’s minor-leaguers for two weeks while delivering food to their hotel rooms, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The fact that one player has tested positive is far from encouraging, as it could create a trickle-down effect similar to the one we’ve seen in the NBA since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for novel coronavirus this past Wednesday.

While Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy said in a conference call Friday that no one in the organization has yet to test positive for the coronavirus at that time, he did acknowledge that he “feels a sense of inevitability” that someone within the organization will eventually test positive.

“We are preparing for that as an organization,” Kennedy said in regard to a Red Sox employee potentially testing positive. “If that happens, we’ll be ready with our own protocols and with Major League Baseball’s protocols.”

If something coronavirus-related does happen to the Red Sox in the coming days, I’ll make sure to have something about it on here. So, hopefully nothing happens, but if it does, stay tuned and remember to wash your hands.

 

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, Team President Sam Kennedy Address Coronavirus Concerns That Led MLB to Delay Start of Season

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, as well as general manager Brian O’Halloran and team president Sam Kennedy, spoke in depth Friday on where Major League Baseball is headed in the wake of the remainder of spring training being suspended and the start of the 2020 season being pushed back at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Earlier Friday, the league made it official that major-league players have the freedom to either remain at their club’s spring training facility, return to their club’s city, or go home themselves at their own discretion.

In a meeting between Red Sox executives, coaches, and players on Friday, Bloom and Co. echoed that same sentiment.

“We’ve just gotten word, and are getting the word out to our players, that since starting to discuss this, it’s been agreed that now our players can leave should they choose to, and go home or go wherever they need to go,” Bloom said in a conference call. “We’re trying to make sure that happens in a safe and orderly manner. We’re working on that as we speak. For players who want to stay here, we will have the facility available to them.”

The Sox have yet to gather a headcount on which players will be staying and which players will be leaving, but despite no official word from the league, they gave their minor-league players the same option as well. Although remaining in Fort Myers may be the most ideal route for them to take due to financial restrictions.

“We recognize, especially as we get into the population of minor leaguers, this may be the best option for them,” Bloom stated. “And we want to make sure that is a good option.”

Typically, the weeks leading up to April involve the movement of dozens of players, major and minor-league alike, in numerous transactions between clubs. But, with the United States now being in a state of national emergency and all, rosters may become frozen for the time being. Or in other words, no roster moves will be allowed until Major League Baseball can resume baseball activities. Nothing has been made official regarding this matter as of now, but Bloom did say that, “We are fully prepared that the next several days will include new information.”

There is also a possibility that rosters could be expanded from 26 players once the 2020 season does start to make up for less preparation time, although, according to Bloom, “There is no indication right now that anything will change.”

Because there is no definite date for a new Opening Day outside of April 9th, which is unlikely to happen, there’s a very real chance that additional spring training games will need to take place once the league resumes in order for players to up their workload once more.

“The short answer is, we don’t know,” Bloom said in regard to a later addition of spring training games. “We don’t have enough of a sense of what this will look like when we start up again.”

Regarding that point about players needing to increase their workload before the season starts, one thing that makes this outbreak-induced delay so challenging is that we simply don’t know when regular season baseball will be back.

As The Athletic’s Chad Jennings notes, “Bloom pointed out that spring training buildup is usually based upon working backward from a known point in time. Opening Day is usually on a specific date, and so players work to be ready on that exact day.

Right now, baseball has no idea when Opening Day will be, so there’s no working backward. The issue of building and sustaining is particularly tricky for pitchers as teams try to find a balance between sustaining their current status and not overworking for a start date that might be far, far down the road.”

How teams will prepare with no set Opening Day date in sight will be interesting to see, and according to Bloom, it will be “one of the tougher questions that I think every club is going to have to answer.”

Turning to some positive news, no Red Sox player has yet to test positive for coronavirus, and the club has even set up their own task force to deal with issues surrounding the virus, per Kennedy.

For the time being, JetBlue Park and the entire Fenway South complex will remain closed to the media and the public through Sunday, while all Fenway Park employees outside of stadium security have been told to work from home.

Fenway Park will also undergo a three-day cleaning starting Saturday morning where “every square inch [of the park] will be disinfected and cleaned,” Kennedy said.

In times like these, baseball takes a back seat as there are more pressing matters at hand. It may stink now, but baseball and the Red Sox will be back eventually.

 

Major League Baseball Suspends Remaining Spring Training Games, Delays Start of Regular Season by at Least Two Weeks Due to Coronavirus

In the midst of the concern surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that all remaining Cactus and Grapefruit League games have been cancelled and that the start of the 2020 regular season would be pushed back by at least two weeks.

“This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans,” the league said in a statement. “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans. MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.”

With the MLS, NBA, and NHL are putting their seasons on hold within the last 24 hours, it was only a matter of time until Major League Baseball followed suit.

There had been discussions about potentially playing games in empty stadiums or at neutral locations that have yet to be stricken by the ever-spreading coronavirus, but postponing the start of the season seems to be the most optimal way to go here for all parties involved.

Two weeks from March 26th is April 9th, when the Red Sox are supposed to be opening up a four-game series against the Mariners in Seattle.

If April 9th is actually the new Opening Day, which appears unlikely at this point, those games would presumably not be played in Seattle given how hard the state of Washington has been hit during this pandemic.

That’s all tentative, though. For now, it looks like the Red Sox could still be hanging around the Fenway South facility in Fort Myers for the time being and still holding their own practices and workouts to remain in playing shape. That goes for the other 29 clubs as well, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered regarding all this, and when more information becomes available I’ll be sure to keep this updated. So stay tuned for that.

UPDATE: Minor League Baseball will also delay the start of their season, which was originally scheduled to begin on April 9th.

Eduardo Rodriguez Continues to Impress With 10 Strikeouts Over Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Top Rays to Win Fourth Straight

After pitching came through in a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to four and improved to 9-10-2 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one was Eduardo Rodriguez, who appears to be in line to get the Opening Day nod from interim manager Ron Roenicke despite no official announcement being made yet.

Tossing four full innings for the second time in a row, the left-hander impressed by keeping the Rays off the scoreboard despite scattering six hits and one walk. 10 of the 12 outs he recorded came by way of the strikeout.

As those numbers suggest, Rodriguez did deal with his fair share of traffic on the base paths on Wednesday, but the majority of the trouble he faced came with two outs in an inning, so he was able to work his way around it.

The 26-year-old capped off his night by fanning the last two Rays he faced in the fourth to finish with a final pitch count of exactly 80. His next outing should come on Monday against the Pirates.

In relief of Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth, and he tossed a perfect frame in his fourth appearance of the spring.

From there, Heath Hembree put together his first scoreless appearance of the spring in the sixth, Austin Brice worked his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean seventh, Domingo Tapia served up a solo home run to Brian O’Grady in the eighth, and Kevin Lenik allowed the go-ahead run to come to the plate on a two-out walk and single before escaping the jam to secure the 3-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Peraza, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Rusney Castillo was matched up against Rays left-handed pitching prospect Shane McClanahan to begin things on Wednesday.

Nothing came against McClanahan in his 1 1/3 innings of work, and it was not until the top half of the third when the Boston bats livened up.

There, three straight two-out hits from the 3-4-5 hitters off of Dylan Covey resulted in the Sox driving in their first run of the night, with Bradley Jr. plating Bogaerts from second on an RBI single up the middle.

Lucroy followed suit a few moments later with an RBI base hit of his own, with this one scoring Chavis from second to make it a 2-0 contest early.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it was Bradley Jr. getting the job done with two outs once more, as he drove in Chavis from second on an RBI double to left off new Rays reliever Anthony Banda.

That two-base hit put the Red Sox up 3-0, and after Tampa Bay pushed across a run of their own in the eighth, 3-1 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score at Charlotte Sports Park.

Some observations from this win:

The Red Sox have won four straight Grapefruit League contests. They have a run differential of +5 over that span.

Austin Brice has yet to give up a run this spring and appears to be a lock to make the Opening Day roster as a bullpen option.

Jose Peraza played left field.

Jonathan Lucroy on Wednesday: 2-for-2 with one walk and one RBI.

Kevin Plawecki, off the bench, on Wednesday: 1-for-2 with a double.

Xander Bogaerts recorded his first hit of the spring on a third-inning single.

Jackie Bradley Jr. owns an OPS of 1.141 through 31 plate appearances this spring.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s their first off day of the spring on Thursday before taking on this same Rays club back at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to start for Boston, while Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter.

Perez put together his best outing of the spring in his last time out against the Twins this past Sunday as he punched out seven over four scoreless frames of work.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. This game will not be televised.