It May Not Be A Bad Time For Chris Sale To Be Having Tommy John Surgery
I hate to keep writing doom and gloom blogs. It really stinks to keep harping on the negative side of every little thing but it's very difficult to find silver linings in not only today's world as a whole, but in the current Boston sports scene. "Boo-hoo, cry me a river," is the phrase I can hear many people saying. Boston and on a larger scale, New England, have had it pretty good for the last 20 years. Crying about misfortune now probably sounds ungrateful and tone-deaf. I do not want to be that guy, if I can avoid it.
The other side of this is that anyone being upset about sports at a time like this in our country seems dumb. There are bigger fish to fry, I get that. However, I'm here to write about sports and write about Boston so let's keep this all in perspective. I'm not trying to downplay anything, I'm just talking about the current state of affairs through the lens of sports.
Regardless, this was all a long-winded way of getting to my main point. I need to be positive about SOMETHING. Of course, you clicked on this blog so if you are still reading you know that I am going to choose to take the positive side of, of all things, Chris Sale's Tommy John surgery. Here we go...
After writing about Chris Sale and his injury woes a couple of times, I've made the point that we were headed for the inevitable Tommy John surgery at some point. Tommy John, for those that don't know, is quite possibly the biggest procedure a pitcher can have. Sale has long been a prime candidate to one day need it, for various reasons that I've detailed before like his stature, his arm action etc.
This spring when the lefty was battling forearm tightness and seeking multiple opinions from medical professionals, we knew this was where we were headed. He'd be going under the knife either now or later in order to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. This type of procedure would knock Sale out for 12-14 months and put the Red Sox in the worst possession they could've imagined when they signed their ace to a five-year contract worth $145 million last year.
After renowned surgeons Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrache did not recommend immediate surgery, Sale was shut down for a few weeks to recover. Then, just days after the lefty resumed throwing, the news came down that he'd elected to go ahead with the TJ surgery. This is a good choice, and I'll tell you why.
Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox just announced.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 19, 2020
It's honestly really simple. With the MLB (and almost everything else) being shut down due to COVID-19, the time is now for Sale to start the clock on a return. The baseball season likely won't start until June or so, and if Sale can get ahead of the game by having the procedure now in March, he's got a two-month head start without having to miss any action.
Obviously, COVID-19 is not something to celebrate. Not having baseball, or sports in general, is also not something to be happy about. However, in a world that is increasingly bleak and negative, why not look for a way to find some small victories. That's what Chris Sale is getting by taking advantage of a bad situation and missing less games than he normally would.
At this rate, IF he has the surgery ASAP (we haven't heard anything about when it'll be besides Chaim Bloom telling us it will be "fairly soon") we're looking at Sale missing June-September of 2020 as well as March-June of 2021, conservatively. This year's Red Sox team likely won't be much to miss and hopefully they can pivot to being competitive come 2021.
Once we get a return from Sale, we'll likely be in for 3 and a half years of a very-good to great starting pitcher. Personally, I still think the investment makes sense and I'll be happy to see what he can be on the other side of this. The time to feel sorry is over and we're moving forward towards a triumphant return.