Red Sox

Red Sox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- We finally have an explanation for why Chris Sale has missed his six-week checkup with Dr. James Andrews by six weeks and counting -- the Red Sox were hoping he'd be available for the playoffs.

Sale visited the famed orthopedist in August after being placed on the injured list with elbow inflammation. Andrews treated Sale with a plasma-rich platelet injection and shut him down, scheduling a followup that would've coincided with the end of the regular season.

There's a reason for that. The Red Sox were holding out hope that Sale could pitch in October, should Boston reach the playoffs. Once the Red Sox fell hopelessly out of contention -- which was pretty much immediately -- they slowed Sale's timetable.

They now sound cautiously optimistic that the ace left-hander is progressing normally as he rehabs at the team's spring training facilities in Fort Myers, where he also makes his offseason home. There's finally an explanation for why a six-week checkup still hasn't happened 12 weeks later.

"What changed is we fell out of the playoff race," said GM Brian O'Halloran. "We decided to slow it down. It was our decision, it was nothing to do with how things were going. The rehab has gone very well and Chris is right where we want him to be, pending that appointment with Dr. Andrews. When we gave a six-week range, that sort of lined up with the end of the season, and we were holding out hope at that point that we still had a chance to be a postseason team. Very quickly after that, that changed, that didn't happen.

"The six weeks was kind of the early range that we were given by our medical department on what was appropriate on a return to play. Once the postseason was no longer a factor, we decided to take the outer end of the range just because it made the most sense to slow it down and give the most time possible to heal and go from there."

So how is Sale doing? While he's still not throwing -- that won't begin until Andrews re-examines him, O'Halloran said, a visit that hasn't been scheduled yet -- he's progressing.

Sale's agent, B.B. Abbott, told the Boston Globe that Sale has seen multiple doctors this fall, and while they're encouraged by his progress, they still don't know what caused the elbow to flare up. It could've been the shoulder injury that slowed him in 2018, the aftereffects of pitching into late October, or something else entirely.

"I think that certainly some of the lingering stuff from the year before, what he went through, the length of the season, the shoulder, things of that nature might have changed something in him mechanically," Abbott told the Globe. "I don't think they've put their finger on anything specifically, but I do think this full rest, this full time to let the PRP do what it did, and the orthopedic surgeons we spoke to and that the team spoke to, seeing the images, I think was very, very promising."

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