Chris Sale might not take the ball on Opening Day next season.
But Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained Thursday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” that the team fully expects Sale to be available for a “very good chunk” of the 2021 campaign.
“I don’t see any reason why not,” Bloom said, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “We know the path that he’s walking on as far as coming back from Tommy John (surgery) is not a certainty, but it is a very well worn path and a lot of guys have come back.
“Just because of the timing of the surgery and him being a starting pitcher, I don’t know that we can necessarily expect to see him on Opening Day. I think there’s a build-up process that needs to happen there. He’s right on schedule and I would fully expect him that for a very good chunk of next season we’ll see him out there.”
Sale, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in December 2016, scuffled a bit in 2019 after seven consecutive seasons with an All-Star selection and a top-six finish in American League Cy Young voting. He hasn’t pitched at all in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery back in March.
It’ll be interesting to see if the left-hander can regain his dominant form upon returning in 2021, but the Red Sox surely need him atop their rotation, which has struggled mightily this season with Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez sidelined and David Price (trade) and Rick Porcello (free agency) leaving the organization entirely.
Sale, who will turn 32 before Opening Day, signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension in 2019 that runs through the 2024 season and includes a $20 million vesting option for 2025.
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