The Red Sox have announced that Chris Sale “underwent open reduction and internal fixation of a fracture of the proximal phalanx of the left fifth finger” today. Although the timeline is unclear at this time, the team believes there is still a possibility that Sale could return later this year. (Twitter links from Mass Live’s Chris Cotillo and Chad Jennings of The Athletic.)
Yesterday, Sale had to leave his start against the Yankees without getting out of the first inning after a comeback hit his pitching hand, clearly injuring it. The Red Sox later announced that his little finger, or “left fifth finger”, was broken. After the match, Sale himself said he expected to miss 4-6 weeks, although the fact that surgery was required raises the possibility that a longer recovery time will be needed.
In a more in-depth look at the matter, Cotillo speaks with orthopedic surgeon Chris Geary, who thinks Sale won’t even be able to pick up a ball for 4-6 weeks. That means it would be late August before Sale could even start hosting bullpen sessions, which wouldn’t give him much time to go on a rehab mission and get back into shape, especially if one considers that he had just returned from another injury. . After being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his rib cage in the spring, he missed the first few months of the season and only recently returned, getting off to a good start, followed by a start where his finger broke .
Although the club believe Sale can still return at some point, he may have to operate assuming his season is over, at least from a rotation perspective. Accelerating to shorter stretches out of the bullpen wouldn’t take as long as returning to a starter’s full workload, making it easier for Sale to return as a reliever.
The club have been particularly bitten in the rotation lately, with rich hill, Michael Wacha, Connor Seabold and Josh Winckowski all of whom have been on the injured list in the past three weeks. Sale being sure to join them, it will leave Boston with a rotation of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivette and Kutter Crawford coming out of the All-Star break. James Paxton is still returning from Tommy John surgery in April 2021, but has yet to begin a rehab mission. Garret Whitlock was in the rotation earlier this year, but has just returned from his own stint in IL as a reliever and is not completely exhausted. Perspective Brayan Bello has made a few starts recently, but has allowed nine earned runs in eight innings.
These struggles in the rotation coincided with a drop in the rankings. Since June 26, they have gone 6-14 and slipped two games behind the Blue Jays for the last Wild Card spot in the American League. The August 2 trade deadline is now just over two weeks away and they will surely have to consider adding weapons, even if some of their injured pitchers are able to get back to the hill. However, if they slip more in the coming weeks, it could impact their aggressiveness.
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