Red Sox

Red Sox ownership goes AWOL, forces Alex Cora to conduct pointless press conference

Red Sox ownership goes AWOL, forces Alex Cora to conduct pointless press conference

BOSTON -- The Red Sox fired their president of baseball operations on Sunday night, so naturally they made their manager explain it.

Alex Cora addressed the media for more than 22 minutes on Monday afternoon, but there's little point in relaying what he said. An ownership group that preaches honesty and accountability found itself bereft of those qualities when it came time to explain the how and why of Dave Dombrowski's ouster.

They instead hid behind an empty press release, leaving the task of explaining how Dombrowski could be fired just 11 months after winning a World Series to one of his underlings.

Cora did the best he could, noting that owners John Henry and Tom Werner, as well as CEO Sam Kennedy, broke the news to him after Sunday night's loss to the Yankees, leaving Cora to "call an audible" and inform his team.

That led to the absurdity of Monday afternoon, when Cora was peppered with very specific questions about why ownership decided to cut ties with Dombrowski, questions he was in no position to answer. In a Belichickian twist, they let the statement speak for itself.

"I know for some people, it's probably not enough," Cora said. "For others, maybe it is. I'm just here like every day to talk to you people for whatever you guys want to talk about it. From my end, like I said yesterday, I was very surprised, but at the same time, you think about it today, and this is the guy that gave me a shot to become a big-league manager. For four or five years, you go through this process and nobody gave you a shot. All of a sudden, Dave Dombrowski, 40 years in the big leagues, decides to give me a chance to run this organization as a manager. We were successful last year. This year, not that much. This is a business where sometimes you've got to take tough decisions, and this was a tough decision.

"Ownership decided that from now on they're going to look forward for someone else to run baseball operations. They explained it very simple. The guy is amazing. He's probably a Hall of Famer, what he did for the organization the last four or five years, it was great. I think everybody appreciates what Dave has done."

Cora said lots of other stuff, but let's just stop right here, because the only ones who can explain the motivations behind this move own the team, and for whatever reason, they're not talking.

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How Chris Sale was able to have Tommy John surgery amid coronavirus shutdown

How Chris Sale was able to have Tommy John surgery amid coronavirus shutdown

In a vacuum, it was a standard announcement from the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

"Left-handed pitcher Chris Sale today underwent successful left UCL reconstruction ('Tommy John surgery,')" the team's statement read. "The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, CA."

But when you consider the circumstances -- that California is under a state-wide shelter-in-place order amid the global coronavirus pandemic -- it's pretty remarkable that Sale walked into a medical facility to undergo a non-essential operation.

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So, how did Sale and the Red Sox pull this off?

According to Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, the team had plenty of internal debate before Sale flew to California on Monday.

"It was important to all of us to do this in a way that would not place any undue burden on anyone suffering due to coronavirus,” Bloom said Monday night in a conference call, via MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo.

"I spoke to Dr. ElAttrache personally to make sure that was the case here and he is just as mindful of the considerations that go along with surgery at a time like this. ... We know this is not life and death and that there are people who are suffering in situations that are life and death."

Los Angeles County (where Sale had his surgery) recently issued a memo recommending all elective surgeries be "limited" until further notice. But the memo didn't explicitly ban such operations, and ElAttrache is of the belief that they're borderline essential for top pitchers like Sale.

"I know that I’m going to get criticized for taking care of these kinds of guys, but it’s essential to their livelihoods," ElAttrache told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. "If you have somebody’s career at stake and they lose two seasons instead of one, I would say that is not a nonessential or unimportant elective procedure."

While ElAttrache's shop is still open, others are already shut down: Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews recently announced he's suspending all Tommy John surgeries at his Florida clinic amid the pandemic.

The Red Sox revealed Sale would need surgery back on March 19 and didn't provide any updates until after Sale's operation Monday. So, why the delay?

Bloom told the reporters the team was working out logistics and making sure it was safe for Sale to go under the knife.

"I think under normal circumstances, we might have been able to have it happen a little bit sooner,” Bloom said. "Obviously, we’re still talking about a relatively short timetable. There’s usually a lag of a few days at a minimum to get something like this done, even in normal times. It was a little longer in this case just because of all the considerations that I discussed."

Sale faces a 14- to 15-month recovery that should sideline him until at least June 2021. But the 31-year-old likely is grateful he was able to have the operation at all before the pandemic worsens in the United States, which already has the most confirmed coronavirus cases than any country in the world.

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.