Red Sox

Here are the Red Sox prospects worth watching in spring training opener

Here are the Red Sox prospects worth watching in spring training opener

The Boston Red Sox' nightmare of an offseason officially ends Friday.

The Red Sox open their 2020 exhibition schedule with their annual matchup against the Northeastern Huskies at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

None of Boston's everyday starters will suit up in the Friday afternoon spring training opener; you'll likely see them over the weekend when the Red Sox begin playing major league competition.

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But it does give Sox fans the chance to check out some of the team's top prospects, one of whom just came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade.

Here's the Red Sox' lineup for the game, which begins at 1:05 p.m. ET:

Marco Hernandez, 2B
Jarren Duran, CF
CJ Chatham, SS
Rusney Castillo, RF
Nick Longhi, 1B
Connor Wong, C
John Andreoli, LF    
Chad De La Guerra, 3B
Juan Centeno, DH

Pitchers: Daniel McGrath, Denyi Reyes, Robinson Leyer, Trevor Hildenberger, Austin Brice

Here are the four players in the lineup most worth watching (besides 32-year-old minor-league mainstay Rusney Castillo, who's entering the final year of his massive contract):

Jarren Duran, CF: The 23-year-old is the seventh-ranked prospect in Boston's system, per SoxProspects.com, and hit .303 in 132 games last season while earning a call-up to Double-A Portland.

CJ Chatham, SS: The Red Sox' 10th-ranked prospect, Chatham has steadily moved up the farm system and hit .302 in a 20-game stint with Triple-A Pawtucket last season. If he has a strong spring, he could be a potential 2020 call-up.

Connor Wong, C: Acquired from L.A. along with Jeter Downs and Alex Verdugo, the 23-year-old joins an intriguing minor-league catching group that includes recent signing Jonathan Lucroy.

Juan Centeno, DH: Centeno re-signed with Boston a minor-league deal this January and could factor into the catcher conversation if he plays well with spring.

As spring training progresses, it will also be worth watching Downs and corner infielder Triston Casas, Boston's only two prospects in MLB.com's Top 100.

Chaim Bloom estimates when Chris Sale could return from Tommy John surgery

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File Photo

Chaim Bloom estimates when Chris Sale could return from Tommy John surgery

Chris Sale turned 31 on Monday. He also had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow on that same day. The procedure will sideline him for at least the rest of the 2020 season and beyond. 

But when exactly can we expect Sale back? Boston Red Sox chief of baseball operations, Chaim Bloom, wouldn't confirm to an exact date, but he did provide some insight into how long Sale might be sidelined.

"We don't know exactly," Bloom said, per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. "Typically you see around that 14-15 month range."

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Okay, so maybe that's not the most specific answer, but it at least gives us a ballpark idea of when Sale could return.

A 14-15 month recovery period would have Sale return sometime between early June and early July in 2021, if his recovery goes well. Of course, there are so many variables to take into account about how Sale may be progressing but also about how the Sox may be faring. If they aren't doing well, the team could take an extremely cautious approach with Sale in hopes of having him fully healthy for the 2022 season.

But Bloom's estimate at least gives Sox fans an initial target for Sale's potential return. The target date will certainly be fluid especially considering that some pitchers take 18 months to return from the surgery.

But no matter what, Sale won't be suiting up for the Red Sox until mid-2021 at the earliest. And that's bad news for the squad considering their lack of starting pitching depth.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale officially undergoes Tommy John surgery

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File Photo

Red Sox ace Chris Sale officially undergoes Tommy John surgery

Chris Sale's long road to recovery from a pesky elbow injury began on Monday.

The Boston Red Sox officially announced that Sale underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday to reconstruct the UCL in his throwing arm. Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery.

The Red Sox and Sale decided that he would need to have the surgery about a week and a half ago. The coronavirus crisis made it a bit uncertain as to when Sale would be able to have the procedure done, but now, it is in the books.

Sale won't pitch at all in 2020 and it's likely that he will miss time in 2021 as well. In fact, he could miss that whole season given that a typical recovery from Tommy John surgery takes about 18 months.

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Either way, the Red Sox will be without Sale long-term and as a result, their starting rotation looks very thin. Eduardo Rodgriguez will slot in as the team's ace while Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez are the Nos. 2 and 3 starters respectively.

The other two rotation spots are up for grabs but before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was assumed that Ryan Weber had the inside track for the fourth starter position. The fifth starter role was much less settled and the team may have used an opener strategy given their lack of starting pitching depth.

Without Sale, the Red Sox will likely have to rely a lot on their offense to carry them to victory moving forward. But we won't get a chance to see how they look until the MLB returns. And at this point in time, it's unclear when that may be.