The elbow issue that has dogged Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale since last season has led to the worst case scenario. On Thursday the Red Sox announced Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery.
He will miss the entire 2020 season and likely the start of the 2021 season as well. No surgery date has been announced.
“Needless to say, this is a tough thing for Chris and a tough thing for all of us here with the Red Sox,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Sale, 31 next week, was limited to 25 starts and 147 1/3 innings by injuries last season. He was hampered by a flexor strain in spring training and only recently resumed throwing. Flexor strains are a common precursor to Tommy John surgery and apparently Sale’s elbow started barking again within the last week or so.
The MLB season is on indefinite hiatus because of the growing threat that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Opening Day has been pushed back to at least mid-May, and that remains subject to change as the situation develops. MLB is hopeful it will play games at some point in 2020. When they do, Sale will be unavailable.
The Red Sox let Rick Porcello depart as a free agent and traded David Price last month, so they were short on pitching even before Sale needed Tommy John surgery.
Now their rotation depth is pretty much nonexistent. Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke indicated the team may use an opener for their fifth starter this year, though the shutdown may change their plans.
Boston could stumble into more pitching at some point between now and Opening Day. For now, the Red Sox are very thin in the rotation. Rodriguez is the only sure thing.