Chris Sale finds himself in a weird spot.
Not only is the Boston Red Sox ace recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent last Monday. He’s also doing so while Major League Baseball — and most of the civilized world, for that matter — adheres to social distancing measures geared toward stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be a safe way to get in there and do my rehab,” Sale told reporters Tuesday during a conference call, per ESPN,com, referring to the Red Sox’s spring training complex in For Myers, Fla. “But worst case, I can do it at my house. I’ve been provided some different things for working out and rehabbing obviously my elbow. The first couple of weeks is light stuff, anyways, basically working on flexion and extension. I try to do most of that over FaceTime and kind of doing stuff from my house.”
Sale, speaking for the first time since his procedure, acknowledged he’s “feeling good,” even though he’ll miss whatever comes of the 2020 MLB season. Recovery from Tommy John surgery can take 12-15 months, if not longer, so Sale is just starting down the path to full health.
There initially had been some question as to when exactly the left-hander would go under the knife, with many doctors postponing elective surgeries amid the coronavirus outbreak. But after consulting with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a renowned orthopedist in California, the pitcher was assured his surgery would in no way exacerbate the problems many hospitals are facing while battling COVID-19.
“At the end of the day, a virus is much more important than fixing my bum elbow,” Sale told reporters Tuesday. ” … That was a big deal for us, that this was the right thing to do at the right time and it wouldn’t affect anybody else that was suffering.”
So, what’s next for Sale? Well, the 31-year-old has plenty of time on his hands. And he plans to use that to his advantage in an effort to return stronger than ever in 2021, the second year of a five-year, $145 million contract extension he signed before the 2019 campaign.
“I have nothing else going on,” Sale said, via ESPN.com. “I can focus 100 percent of my time and effort on this to come back as good as I can. I owe that to my team, my teammates and to the fans.
“I’m sitting out a year and the team put its faith in me to pitch at the highest level for five more years. And at best, I’m only going to give them four. For me, I take a lot of pride in what I do and don’t take it lightly. I have a chip on my shoulder. I guess I have one in my elbow, too.”
Sale, a seven-time All-Star, has spent the last three seasons with Boston after beginning his career with the Chicago White Sox. The journey back to being a front-line starter won’t be easy, especially with the world throwing him a curveball in the form of a global pandemic, but he’s approaching the challenge with an abundance of motivation.
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