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.”