New England is getting pummeled by the sports world this winter/spring. First, the Red Sox were caught up in the sign stealing scandal that had – metaphorically – brought baseball to a halt. Then, they traded away Mookie Betts … to the Los Angeles Dodgers of all teams. THEN, Tom Brady left the Patriots after 20 years. And now, their left-handed ace Chris Sale – who’s just beginning a 5-year/$145M extension this season – is undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Check it out:
The #RedSox announced today that LHP Chris Sale will undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John) on his left elbow.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 19, 2020
Of course, this didn’t come entirely out of nowhere.
Sale had gotten not one, not two, but three opinions on his MRI, including one from Dr. James Andrews, before the Red Sox had settled on a plan. And indeed that plan did NOT include Tommy John surgery as recently as March 5th (per interim manager Ron Roenicke): “The UCL looks the same as the last image… doctors have advised him to wait another week before he starts throwing again. He’ll start playing catch again. If everything is good we’ll progress.”
Obviously, that is no longer the case. Here’s the progression:
Chris Sale had just resumed his throwing program Monday after being shut down for two weeks when the pain resurfaced. He'll be out now until late 2021 or the start of the 2022 season for the #RedSox
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 19, 2020
Part of me wants to believe he was always heading for Tommy John surgery, but another part of me can’t shake the feeling that the Red Sox are just taking a calculated gamble here, given the status of the league, 2020 regular season, and the world.
Nobody knows how the rest of this season will shake out (in terms of how and when play will resume), the Red Sox have already lost their manager, Alex Cora, and star outfielder, Mookie Betts, and Sale is just beginning that massive 5-year extension. Pulling the trigger on the surgery now was probably always in their best long-term interests, but the calculus on the short term just changed dramatically. Tough season to be a fan of any sport, but particularly one in New England. Woof.