BOSTON -- In what could potentially be tremendous news for the Red Sox in the long term, Chris Sale was told by Dr. James Andrews on Monday that he will not need Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
However, the expectation is that Sale won’t pitch again in 2019.
“Sale was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews this morning in Pensacola, Florida,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said a statement. “Dr. Andrews confirmed that Sale has inflammation in his left elbow and treated it with a platelet-rich plasma injection. Dr. Andrews also recommended a period of shutdown from throwing. Sale will be re-evaluated in six weeks by Dr. Andrews.”
Sale’s next visit with Andrews wouldn’t be until the day after the regular season ends, according to that six-week timetable. There likely isn’t enough time on the calendar for Sale to build back up for this season, even if Boston went on a prolonged playoff run.
The Red Sox are 6 1/2 games behind the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot, which makes such a long run seem unlikely at this point anyhow.
However, the news on Monday could have been a lot worse.
If Sale had needed Tommy John surgery, it would have knocked him out for not just the remainder of this season, but also 2020.
Sale inked a five-year, $145 million extension back in the spring that will begin next season. He is obviously a cornerstone in the club’s hopes to contend for a championship the next five years.
Sale, who was placed on the injured list on Saturday, is 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA, though he had pitched far better of late.
After a win last Tuesday at Cleveland, Sale started to experience discomfort in his elbow in the days that followed. He told the team about it on Friday, and the Red Sox's medical staff performed an MRI on Saturday, which revealed inflammation.
In Sale’s last start, he became the fastest pitcher in MLB history to reach the 2,000-strikeout milestone.