The Red Sox Need To Handle Chris Sale With Care
There are very few good things going on at Red Sox spring training right now and Thursday, it only got worse. Interim manager Ron Roenicke announced that the team's ace, Chris Sale, will start the 2020 regular season on the injured list. Should we be surprised? Probably not. Sale reported to camp with pneumonia and has been behind schedule from the jump. Now the team claims they want to give him that "two weeks" that he missed to make sure his arm is ready to go for when it matters.
The funny thing is that anyone with a brain knows it'll never matter this season. The team isn't actively trying to win and therefore they don't care if Sale is pitching or not. Would I be surprised to see them place him on the IL multiple times this year with phantom injuries? Not at all. They'll probably even shut him down in August or September too!
Be careful though, Red Sox. If you want to rebuild and get out from under Sale's contract, you better not tank his value. He needs to pitch and remain on the field enough that teams are interested at the deadline or next offseason. Another injury-plagued campaign is going to hurt the return they can get for him, so they better tread lightly and manage this with pinpoint precision.
Now, I'm a giant fan of Chris Sale. I think most people are, to be honest. He's absolutely electric on the mound and his mentality off of it is exactly what you want out of an ace and a leader of your pitching staff. He offers no excuses any time he struggles and makes it very clear that he cares deeply about being available to compete at a high level for his team and the fans. I'd love for him to retire in Boston, but the team put themselves in a position where that isn't going to be in the plans.
I can also recognize that Sale's contract is looking bad. He's got a lot of issues that make it hard to see a bright future for him and make the risk not really worth it. Boston has tried EVERYTHING to try to manage his arm over the years and yet again, they are trying to do what's right. They'll probably mess it up and we'll probably end up dumping him for nothing but hey, it is going to be a difficult task to complete the right way.
Where does this leave the Sox as we head into the season? With Eduardo Rodriguez as their likely Opening Day starter. You could do worse for the top of your rotation, but back end is now looking bare. The team was already floating the idea of an "opener" for the fifth spot and now they've got to fill the fourth as well. Meanwhile, the television ratings will only tank further while Sale sits. This is how Boston chose to handle this year though, so they have no one to blame but themselves.