Red Sox starter Chris Sale says he’s healthy and ready for spring training after a fly bike injury

This has been a challenging offseason for the Boston Red Sox. They locked up homegrown star Rafael Devers and signed seven free agents to major league contracts, including Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida, but they also lost Xander Bogaerts to free agency and Trevor Story to elbow surgery. When ownership and the front office met with fans at the team’s Winter Weekend event on Friday, they were greeted with loud shouts. The fanbase is unhappy, and understandably so.

It’s not all bad news for Red Sox nation, though. Former ace Chris Sale is fully recovered from last year’s injuries and will be ready to go when spring training starts next month, he told Winter Weekend. From Boston Globe:

“We’re good. Humpty Dumpty was put back together,” Sale said Saturday at the Red Sox Winter Weekend event.

Sale was positive to near giddiness during a 20-minute call with reporters, joking that he turns 34 in March but his arm is only 30 after so much inactivity.

“I’m very, very excited going forward,” Sale said. “This is the first spring training I’ve been excited about in a while. I’m just really grateful for it.

Sale has made just 11 starts and thrown just 48 1/3 big league innings over the past three seasons due to a series of injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020, broke a rib during last offseason’s owner-initiated lockout, then suffered a broken finger on a comeback in his second start. Sales 2022 ended when he broke his wrist in a cycling accident following the finger injury.

When healthy, Sale has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game since his MLB debut in August 2010, just a few weeks after being drafted 13th overall. However, you have to go back to 2018 for his last full and healthy season, and it’s fair to wonder how effective he can be after so many injuries. As his 34th birthday approaches, sales are also at the point where normal age-related decline is possible.

This much is certain: The Red Sox need Sale to be healthy and effective in 2022. Their rotation isn’t particularly deep at the moment. Boston’s rotation depth chart looks something like this:

  1. LHP Chris Sale (11 starts in last three years)
  2. RHP Nick Pivetta (staff workhorse)
  3. RHP Corey Kluber (turns 37 in April)
  4. LHP James Paxton (six starts in the last three years and none since April 2021)
  5. RHP Garrett Whitlock (converted reliever coming off hip surgery)
  6. RHP Brayan Bello (career high is 157 1/2 innings in 2022)
  7. RHP Josh Winckowski (47 runs allowed and just 44 strikeouts in 70 1/3 MLB innings in 2022)

The soon-to-be 37-year-old Kluber and young Mr. Bello are the best bets to provide innings — not even quality innings, necessarily just innings — behind Pivetta in 2023. The Red Sox lost Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Wacha to free agency, remember. They have only signed Kluber to replace them, and are betting, among other things, that Sale and Paxton will stay on the field.

I guess the good news is that several of Sale’s injuries have been accidental. Getting hit by a comeback is bad luck and falling off a bike can be avoided by, you know, not riding. This is not Paxton, for example, who has had one arm injury after another. I wouldn’t bet on Sale being very effective as long as he’s healthy, and right now he’s healthy and ready to go in spring training.

“I owe these people something, I owe everybody,” Sale told MLB.com. “I owe my teammates the starting pitcher they thought they were going to get. I owe the front office the starting pitcher they paid for, and I owe the fans the performance they paid to come see.”

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