TAMPA, Fla. — Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale has soreness in his throwing elbow and has undergone an MRI, the team announced two days after the 30-year-old left-hander faced batters for the first time this spring.
Manager Ron Roenicke said Sale felt the soreness in his elbow Monday morning, the day after his 18-pitch batting practice session. Team doctors reviewed the MRI results and sent them to Dr. James Andrews.
“Obviously we’re concerned about it,.” Roenicke said Tuesday.
Sale’s batting practice session Sunday was the first time he faced hitters since he gave up five runs over 6 2/3 innings in a win at Cleveland on Aug. 13. He went on the injured list with elbow inflammation, finishing 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts — his fewest wins and starts and highest ERA in a full season since 2012.
Sale avoided surgery on his elbow, receiving platelet-rich plasma injections in the fall instead.
“There’s some concern, knowing how his 2019 went and knowing how important he is to us,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. “But we also know that in the course of building up, when you do hit these milestones, sometimes you can get sore.
“He hasn’t faced hitters in a long time,” Bloom said. “Everything has gone so well to this point. This is our first bump in the road. Hopefully it’s just a bump in the road, but you can’t help but be somewhat concerned.”
The news further clouds plans Boston’s plans for its starting rotation.
The Red Sox have two openings in the opening day rotation because of Sale’s absence and the trade of David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Mookie Betts last month. The team is also considering openers, which Bloom is familiar with from his 15-year tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sale, who turns 31 on March 30, is entering the first year of a five-year, $145 million deal he signed during spring training last year. This will be his third stint on the IL since Boston acquired him before the 2017 season. He also missed about a month near the end of the 2018 season before returning to help the team win the World Series that year.
Sale has pitched 10 seasons in the majors, the last three with the Red Sox. He was 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 237 strikeouts in Boston’s 2018 championship season and was 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 308 strikeouts in 2017.
For his career, Sale is 109-73 with a 3.03 ERA and 2,007 strikeouts. He spent his first seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
NOTES: Roenicke said SS Xander Bogaerts (ankle) is “pretty close” to playing for the first time during spring training. Bogaerts probably will start off as a DH. … OF Andrew Benintendi (quadriceps) was the DH against the New York Yankees on Tuesday. … 1B Mitch Moreland (hamstring) could be back in the lineup in the next couple days.