Upbeat Sale says rehab process going great

August 13th, 2020

BOSTON -- On the one-year anniversary of his last start for the Red Sox and 4 1/2 months since he had Tommy John surgery, an upbeat held a Zoom session with reporters from JetBlue Park on Thursday to provide an update on his rehab.

While pitchers have often painted rehab from Tommy John as isolating and depressing, Sale is taking a much healthier outlook.

“So far, everything’s been great,” said Sale, who lives in Naples, Fla., roughly a half hour from JetBlue Park. “This process has been a little bit different than other rehab processes in the past, but I feel like it’s almost catered to me. I’m up here at JetBlue, I’m working with people I’m familiar with, comfortable with, spending more time at the house.

“Everything up to now has been good. We’ve kind of hit all the check marks that we’ve needed to hit in these two-week segments in the progression through, and I’m just sitting here trying to count down the days until I start throwing.”

When will that be?

“I was always in that frame between the four-to-five-month mark and you obviously back track from when you want to get off the mound and go from there,” Sale said. “I think, right now, it’s late August, early September, is the target date. Like I said, doing the rehab process, some weight training, some physical therapy, some soft tissue stuff, but like I said, everything, knock on wood, has gone very well up to now. Once I start throwing, that’s when I think the bigger jump is coming and that’s when it’s more fun for me anyway.”

In the meantime, Sale is trying to have fun with the novelty of it all. Like just about anything during the pandemic, Sale’s training space has been, well, unique. As of yet, he’s not allowed to work indoors at JetBlue.

Everything he needs is an open-air batting cage that has a roof over it. They are the cages Red Sox players use throughout Spring Training.

“The cage right there, that’s my weight room right now and my training room and my locker room,” said Sale. “My shower, I have a hose, so this has been fun. We work out outside. We brought some stuff from the weight room out, we brought some stuff from the training room out and it’s been good, other than it being really hot.

“We’re in a cage with just some fans and stuff like that, but it’s been great. I’ve actually liked it because it’s different. It’s fun, we bounce around, we do some different things, so I’ve enjoyed it. The hose is a little cold, but it’s fun.”

Sale is also hyper-focused on maximizing his downtime to make sure he is in top form when he returns to the mound.

“That’s really the beauty of this is I can really focus on everything. I’m not even joking,” said Sale. “From my ankle stability to my knees to my hips, back, all the way up, we’re working from the kinetic chain. We basically, we have so much time, and it’s a good and a bad thing. Bad thing is, I’m itching to get back out there, but the good thing is we can take the time to really break everything down and see where the kink in the armor was.

“They say, someone has Tommy John, they have a bad elbow. Obviously, I did, but it stems from other things. We’re kind of chasing down the rabbit hole finding those things and correcting those so the whole thing works better when we start this thing back up. I’m excited for it. It’s been a fun process up to now. Not a lot of people can say that about a rehab, I’m glad that I can.”

While hindsight is always 20-20 and it’s easy to say that Sale should have had his Tommy John surgery last August when his elbow first started bothering him, he stands by the decision he made to try to come back this spring and is moving forward.

“Last year, in hindsight I should’ve got Tommy John surgery on Aug. 14, 2019,” Sale said. “But that’s just not how this game goes. That’s not how life works. It’s, ‘Hey, there are other options, let’s explore that.’ And I swear to you on everything I love, I thought I was in the clear. I really did.

“I was throwing as hard as I could. I was snapping off breaking balls. Spring Training bullpens, everything was fine. You can ask guys. I wasn’t hurting. Everything was coming out fine. Everything was good. So I wouldn’t change any of that because I would have more questions now because I didn’t. If you just get Tommy John just to get Tommy John, I would question myself a lot. Now I have no questions. Now I definitely know this was the route I had to go and I’m cool with that. I sleep fine at night. I have unbelievable people in my corner who are helping me every step of the way.”