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Sale has TJ surgery, could return in June '21

Red Sox mindful to 'not place any undo burden' during pandemic
@IanMBrowne
March 30, 2020

BOSTON -- Eleven days after the Red Sox revealed that Chris Sale needed Tommy John surgery, the left-hander underwent the procedure in Los Angeles on Monday, and the club announced it was a success. The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. The

BOSTON -- Eleven days after the Red Sox revealed that Chris Sale needed Tommy John surgery, the left-hander underwent the procedure in Los Angeles on Monday, and the club announced it was a success.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

The Red Sox and Sale were both mindful of the coronavirus pandemic while setting up the logistics of the surgery.

“Needless to say, these are not normal times,” said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. “As a society, we are facing some difficult challenges. We knew that to schedule this or any surgery right now would not be routine, that there might be scheduling or logistical difficulties.

“As I said earlier this month, it was important to all of us to do this in a way that would not place any undo burden on anyone suffering because of the coronavirus. I spoke to Dr. ElAttrache personally to make sure that was the case here, and he was just as mindful of the many considerations that go along with surgery at a time like this. We are obviously appreciative that he was able to do the procedure but also that he took the time to discuss those considerations with us.”

Sale -- who turned 31 on Monday -- will miss the entire 2020 season, and a best-case scenario would have him return around June of ’21.

“We don’t know exactly,” Bloom said. “Typically, give or take, around that 14-month range for a typical Tommy John. Some guys come back quicker. Some guys take a little longer, obviously depending on how the rehab proceeds and if there are any bumps in the road that they encounter. Typically that 14-month range or so is where it lands.”

“Chris will return to Florida soon to begin his rehab for the long process, but we know how driven he is to do it right. We’re eager to see him on the Fenway mound again when it’s time.”

It is unclear when the season will start. But when it does, Eduardo Rodriguez figures to be the ace of a Boston rotation that will also include Nathan Eovaldi, Martín Pérez and Ryan Weber.

Right-hander Collin McHugh could be in the mix as well, but his time-table is uncertain as he recovers from a flexor strain from last season.

The Red Sox are also contemplating using an opener for the final spot in the rotation.

“Of course we want to do everything we can to compete this season, and we still have that outlook,” Bloom said. “But we need to make sure that we’re viewing the big picture as well. What that’s going to mean as we go forward, it’s hard to say anything specific, but needless to say, losing Chris for 2020 is not going to make our task any easier.

“It is going to create some opportunities for some guys to step up and you never know what’s going to happen with that, especially with the added uncertainty that surrounds this season generally, but it’s not going to make this any easier.”

In three seasons with the Red Sox, Sale is 35-23 with a 3.08 ERA in 84 starts. He has covered 519 2/3 innings in that time, notching 763 strikeouts.

Sale is signed with the Red Sox through the 2024 season.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.