Chris Sale has been through enough over the last three years to not get too excited, but the Boston Red Sox ace is cautiously optimistic about his health heading into the 2023 season.
Sale missed all of 2020 and most of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, then sat out the first three months of the 2022 campaign due to a rib cage fracture. He made only two starts last season before suffering a broken left pinky finger on a comebacker, then a fractured right wrist in a bicycle accident that kept him out the remainder of the season.
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While the 33-year-old doesn't want to jinx himself, he shared an encouraging update on his status.
“Humpty Dumpty got put back together,” Sale told reporters at Red Sox Winter Weekend.
“But in all seriousness (I feel) good. I started playing catch when I always do in the offseason. Been playing long toss for a little bit now. Got off a mound before I got up here. As of now, we’re right where we need to be. Don’t say it too loud.”
Red Sox pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Fort Myers, Fla. for spring training on Feb. 15. Sale expects to be at full strength when it's time to get to work.
“I’m very, very excited going forward,” Sale said. “This is the first spring training I’ve been able to be excited about in a while. I’m just very appreciative of that. Just going to try to hold onto that tight and run with it.
“I’ve kept myself in really good physical shape,” he added. “My arm’s feeling good. I don’t have any hesitation going forward with pitching. Just need to stay away from bikes and bad luck.”
A healthy Sale at the top of the rotation would be a game-changer for Boston in 2023. Understandably, not many expect it to come to fruition as the veteran southpaw has made only 12 appearances since 2019.
Sale knows he has plenty to prove.
“I owe these people something,” he said. “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. I owe the fans performances they’re paying to come and see.”