Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale is being realistic about his recovery and rehabilitation after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
Sale, 31, acknowledged that it's unlikely he'll be available until deep into the upcoming 2021 MLB season, but is optimistic about being back on schedule for an eventual return.
"I feel great now," Sale said Thursday via ESPN. "The silver lining through all of this is that my elbow has been on track since day one. Nothing off track with that. That has been steady throughout this whole process."
Sale underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020 to repair an ulnar collateral ligament, which coincided with the worst season of his career in 2019. The procedure -- named after former MLB pitcher Tommy John who underwent surgery in 1974 -- is commonly used to repair a torn ulna collateral ligament inside the elbow by replacing it with a tendon in another part of the body, aiming to stabilize the elbow, reduce or eliminate pain and restore the individual's range of motion, according to HopkinsMedicine.org.
After making seven consecutive All-Star appearances as both a member of the Chicago White Sox (2012-16) and Red Sox (2017-18), Sale finished the 2019 season with a 6-11 record -- the only time he's finished a season with a losing record --and a career-worst 4.40 ERA in 25 starts.
Boston is expected to be cautious in its effort to bring its starter back into the fold.
"I don't have any power over this process," Sale said via ESPN. "I show up and do my work and there's going to be a day where I show up and I am throwing on flat ground. And I know if everything goes as planned, I'm going to go to the mound and then we do it. So and so forth through this process. Taking it a day at a time and doing the work I need to get back out there."
Sale had never missed significant time due to injury prior to being inactive for the entire 2020 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The former two-time American League strikeout leader dealt with several setbacks in recent weeks, which included a minor neck condition and COVID-19, forcing him to quarantine for two weeks while experiencing symptoms of taste and smell loss.
Sale, who reported to St. Petersburg, Florida with Red Sox pitchers and catchers this week, said he's more excited about spring training than he'd been during any other point in his career, although he's unaware of what the team's plan is to handle his rehab after the completion of spring training at the end of March.
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