On the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery, Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale apparently ran into a setback some time within the past month or so, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
Per Bradford, “Sale experienced a setback around the holidays due to neck stiffness. The ailment put a halt to the starter’s throwing program, which he has begun participating in again.”
The encouraging aspect of this is that Sale has since resumed his throwing program, though his “workouts now include treatment on the neck issue to prevent the problem from cropping up again,” Bradford writes.
Sale, who turns 32 in March, underwent elbow reconstruction surgery on March 29 last year.
Pitchers typically take anywhere between 12-15 months to recover from said operation, which would put the southpaw on track to return to the mound at some point this summer if all goes accordingly.
“With Chris, we’re still looking at a midsummer return to have him fully stretched out as a starter,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Sale in November. “But everything continues going along with that. Arm’s doing great, which is awesome.”
Earlier this month, however, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Sox are expected to be “cautious” with Sale’s rehab and that “the pace for his return from Tommy John surgery is expected to be deliberate.”
The seven-time All-Star inked a five-year, $145 million contract extension with Boston shortly before the start of the 2019 campaign, when then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was at the helm.
Since then, Sale has started just 25 games for the Red Sox, posting a 4.40 ERA and .695 OPS against over 147 1/3 innings pitched before getting shut down due to left elbow inflammation in August 2019, which ultimately led to TJS the following spring.
Under contract through the 2024 season (vesting option for 2025) with the opportunity to opt out after 2022, Sale is slated to earn $30 million in 2021. That dollar figure translates to $25.6 million for luxury tax purposes.
As noted by Bradford, the Florida native was expected to begin throwing off a mound sometime this month, though it appears the neck stiffness he dealt with and is getting treatment on threw a wrench in those plans.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)