Chris Sale injury update: Red Sox ace seeks third opinion on elbow soreness while waiting for MRI results

Gone from the 2019 Red Sox rotation already are David Price (traded to Dodgers) and Rick Porcello (free agency). There’s now legitimate worry Chris Sale will be added to the list. The lefty ace has a sore throwing elbow and went for an MRI on earlier this week. According to the team, they are waiting for Dr. James Andrews to read the MRI results (via Pete Abraham), and in the interim Sale is going to receive a third opinion, this time from Dr. Neal ElAttrache. 

Dr. Andrews is an esteemed doctor, but his name is most associated with Tommy John surgery. If Sale needs the procedure, he’d miss all of the 2020 season and probably some of the 2021 season. The team has already gotten the opinion of its own medical staff, and now they’ll be hearing from two of the top sports physicians of all. That the Red Sox are working to build a consensus around Sale likely suggests they expect bad news from Dr. Andrews. 

Sale was shut down mid-August last season due to elbow inflammation and he had diminished velocity in the early going last year as well. He also had easily the worst year of his career, going 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA (109 ERA+), though he still struck out 208 in 147 1/3 innings. 

Sale, whose five-year, $145 million extension starts this season, was already expected to miss Opening Day after the start of his spring training was delayed due to pneumonia. The elbow issue is a much greater concern.

Here’s what the Red Sox’s rotation looks like without Sale:

  1. Eduardo Rodriguez
  2. Nathan Eovaldi
  3. Martin Perez
  4. Ryan Weber
  5. Hector Velazquez

Needless to say, that doesn’t look too sturdy for a team that won 108 games and the World Series just two seasons ago. 

SportsLine projects the Red Sox to go 88-74 this season, good for third place in the AL East but short of a playoff spot. That’s with Sale. Their playoff odds currently sit at 37.4 percent. Losing Sale for the season would cost them 4.2 percent from that figure, SportsLine projects. 

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