Red Sox starter Chris Sale says he is healthy and ready for spring training after a bicycle injury.

Red Sox starter Chris Sale says he is healthy and ready for spring training after a bicycle injury.

This has been a challenging offseason for the Boston Red Sox. They secured local star Rafael Devers and signed seven free agents to major league contracts, including Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida, but also lost Xander Bogaerts to free agency and Trevor Story to elbow surgery. When the property and front office faced fans at the team’s winter weekend event on Friday, they were greeted with loud boos. The fanbase is unhappy, and it’s understandable.

However, it’s not all bad news for Red Sox nation. Former ace Chris Sale is fully recovered from last year’s injuries and will be ready to play when spring training begins next month, Winter Weekend said. From the boston globe:

“We’re good. Humpty Dumpty’s back together,” Sale said Saturday during the Red Sox’s winter weekend event.

Sale was almost giddy positive during a 20-minute conversation with reporters, joking that he will turn 34 in March but his arm is only 30 years old after so much inactivity.

“I’m very, very excited to move on,” Sale said. “This is the first spring training I’ve been able to be excited about in a long time. I’m very thankful for that.

Sale has made just 11 starts and pitched just 48 1/3 innings in the majors over the past three seasons due to a variety of injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020, fractured a rib during last offseason’s owner-initiated lockout and then broke a finger in a comeback in his second start. Sale’s 2022 ended when he broke his wrist in a bicycle accident following the finger injury.

When healthy, Sale has been one of the dominant pitchers in the game since making his MLB debut in August 2010, just a few weeks after taking the 13th pick in the draft. You have to go back to 2018 to see his last full and healthy season, though, and it’s fair to wonder how effective he can be after so many injuries. Plus, now that his 34th birthday is approaching, Sale is at the point where a normal age-related decline is possible.

One thing is for sure: The Red Sox need Sale to be healthy and effective in 2022. Their rotation isn’t especially deep right now. Boston’s rotation depth chart looks something like this:

  1. LHP Chris Sale (11 starts in the past three years)
  2. RHP Nick Pivetta (the staff workhorse)
  3. RHP Corey Kluber (turns 37 in April)
  4. LHP James Paxton (six starts in the last three years and none since April 2021)
  5. RHP Garrett Whitlock (turned reliever coming off hip surgery)
  6. RHP Brayan Bello (career-high 157 1/2 innings in 2022)
  7. RHP Josh Winckowski (47 runs allowed and just 44 strikeouts in 70 1/3 MLB innings in 2022)

Kluber, soon to be 37, and young Mr. Bello are the best bets for innings — not even quality innings, necessarily, just innings — behind Pivetta in 2023. The Red Sox lost Nathan Eovaldi and Michael. Wacha to free agency, remember. They’ve only signed Kluber to replace them, and they’re relying on Sale and Paxton to stay on the field, among other things.

I guess the good news is that several of Sale’s injuries have been random. Getting hit by a comeback is bad luck and falling off a bike can be avoided, you know, by not riding a bike. This isn’t, say, Paxton, who has had one arm injury after another. I wouldn’t bet against Sale being very effective as long as he’s healthy, and right now, he’s healthy and ready for spring training.

“I owe something to these people, I owe them all”, Sale told MLB.com. “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, and I owe the fans the performances they’re paying to come see.”

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