Chris Sale made his Major League Baseball debut 10 years ago. And he’s using this rehab as an opportunity to rebuild his pitching motion and as the Boston Red Sox ace recovers from Tommy John surgery.
And, as he revealed Thursday during a Zoom conference, he’s trying to prepare his body to pitch another 10 years.
“This is the first time I’ve gone that long without playing,” Sale told reporters. “I get to get my body in shape to do this for another 10 years. I got 10 years in the big leagues and my body broke down. Now I build it back and go. That’s the way I’m looking at it.
“You only get one rehab chance. I only have one shot to rehab my arm and do it the right way. If I’m doing that reluctantly or in a negative way or if I come in with a bad attitude, It’s just going to suck. And I’ve heard those stories. I’ve heard, ‘this is miserable.’ I’ve had none of that because I think my mindset, who I’m around and who I have in my corner have helped not make this miserable.”
The lefty, however, did allow himself one day to be mad about the situation, but knew he couldn’t carry that with him for long.
Sale hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 2019, and said he was told for a while he’d eventually need Tommy John surgery. But after getting hurt last summer and visiting with Dr. James Andrews, he avoided it for six months. And he stands by that decision to put it off and instead opt for a platelet-rich plasma injection.
“We gave it a real chance,” Sale said. “Last year, in hindsight, I should’ve got Tommy John surgery on Aug. 14, 2019. 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 (try to avoid surgery). 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.”
And his plan from here is clear, working on his pitching motion from the ground up after seeing videos of himself pre-surgery, realizing what about it he can fix.
Sale is targeting August or early September for him to start throwing again. But as for getting ready for Opening Day in 2021? He’s hopeful, but not rushing it.
“I’m not so much worried about the date as much as I just want to pitch again,” Sale said.
Because as he mentioned, rushing back before he feels ready won’t be conducive to pitching before he’s 41.