Boston Herald

Sale’s setback a cruel blow for pitcher

- By Mac Cerullo

Chris Sale had come so far and overcome so much, and for a fleeting moment it seemed like he truly had put his nightmaris­h three-year run of injuries behind him.

And yet there he was Friday, sitting at a podium ruminating on yet another injury setback.

Sale is hurt again, this time with a shoulder issue that cut his Thursday start short after only 59 pitches. The injury seemingly came out of nowhere — he said it popped up during the second inning and there’d been no indication anything was wrong leading up to the game — but for a guy who has already endured Tommy John surgery, a stress fracture in his rib, a broken pinky and a broken wrist, it’s put him back in a familiar place.

“Kind of a gut punch. I worked really hard, a lot of people worked really hard to get me to this spot,” Sale said on Friday. “It’s tough being a disappoint­ment again.”

Officially on the 15-day injured list with left shoulder inflammati­on, Sale’s prognosis is still uncertain. He underwent an MRI and CT scan and hopes to have a clearer picture on the exact nature of his injury later this week.

Maybe the issue could turn out to be minor and Sale could be back after missing two starts. Maybe he could be out a few months or for the rest of the season. Either way, this latest setback is a cruel blow for a pitcher who thought he was finally over the hump.

“It’s disappoint­ing man,” Sale said, taking a long pause to collect his thoughts. “I hate feeling like this. I started having fun playing baseball again, and now I’m back to not having fun.”

Heading into spring training the hope was that Sale could get back to being an ace who could carry the Red Sox pitching staff back into the playoffs, and through the first third of the season he was exactly that.

Sale made his first 11 starts, and while the first few were pretty rocky, he eventually rounded into form and was among the top contenders for AL Pitcher of the Month for May.

From April 30 onwards Sale went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA while striking out 41 batters against just five walks over 36 innings. Opposing batters were hitting .191 against him, and he was also pitching deep into games, at one point going four consecutiv­e starts with 6+ innings and 98+ pitches.

Though the Red Sox were understand­ably cautious early on, often giving Sale an extra day of rest between starts, he was getting to a point where the club was growing more comfortabl­e letting him off the leash.

“Taking care of him, that’s out the window,” Cora said on Tuesday when asked about the run Sale had been on. “Now we just let him go and hopefully he can go on one of those runs like ’17-’18 and carry this pitching staff all the way through some good things.”

Sale may yet have the opportunit­y to do so, but for now his season is in a holding pattern and the Red Sox are once again in limbo. The club already faces long odds competing in MLB’s toughest division, and with so much instabilit­y in the rotation as it is losing Sale again is a tremendous blow that won’t be easy for the Red Sox to overcome.

One thing Sale is sure about, however, is he isn’t going to let this setback

break him.

“If there’s anything I can prove is it’s not going to keep me down,” Sale said. “This is obviously not where I want to be, but if there’s somebody out there watching, never give up. I’m going to keep rolling. I’ve been through the (expletive) and back, and I’m in the (expletive) again, and I’m going to be back.”

Could All-Star Game return to Fenway?

It’s no secret the Red Sox want to bring the All-Star Game back to Fenway Park. Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy has gone on record multiple times over the past year saying the club is lobbying to host again, and MLB Commission­er Rob Manfred said

at the Winter Meetings that Boston is among the cities currently being considered.

This year’s All-Star Game is being held July 11 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle and the 2024 edition will be played at Globe Life Field, the new Texas Rangers ballpark. Three years down the road the 2026 All-Star Game will be held at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelph­ia to commemorat­e the 250th anniversar­y of the signing of the Declaratio­n of Independen­ce, but so far the venue for the 2025 game or for 2027 and beyond haven’t been announced.

Will Fenway Park get the nod? The Red Sox have a strong case, but so do several others.

Since Fenway last hosted the All-Star Game in 1999 there are five clubs who have not hosted or are not currently scheduled to host an All-Star Game. Two of those clubs, the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, are not in considerat­ion due to their respective stadium issues, but the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays have all waited longer and can make compelling cases of their own.

The Atlanta Braves also last hosted in 2000 and were scheduled to host the 2021 game at their new ballpark, but the game was moved in response to Georgia’s controvers­ial new voting laws. It’s unclear how that issue might impact Atlanta’s future All-Star Game odds, but historical­ly MLB has used the Midsummer Classic to showcase its newest venues and brightest stars.

Between the shiny new Truist Park and a roster overflowin­g with young talent, the Braves have both.

The Red Sox do have a lot going for them, chiefly the transforma­tion of Fenway Park under John Henry’s ownership group. When the All-Star Game last came to Boston in 1999 there were no Green Monster seats, no right field roof deck and no Truly Terrace, and over the past two decades Fenway Sports Group has invested millions into revitalizi­ng the century-old facility to ensure it remains a vibrant destinatio­n for generation­s to come.

Those efforts have also extended to the area surroundin­g the park, and in the coming years the Red Sox hope to conduct a major redevelopm­ent of the neighborho­od similar to what the Cubs did with the Wrigleyvil­le area. That project, dubbed “Fenway Corners,” is currently being reviewed by the Boston Planning and Developmen­t Agency and if approved could be well underway by the time a future All-Star Game returns to the city.

Of course, the Wrigleyvil­le transforma­tion is already complete and Wrigley Field has undergone impressive renovation­s of its

 ?? MATT STONE — BOSTON HERALD ?? Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale walks back to the dugout after an apparent injury during the fourth inning of Thursday’s game. Boston’s 8-2 win over Cincinnati was overshadow­ed by Sale’s injury.
MATT STONE — BOSTON HERALD Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale walks back to the dugout after an apparent injury during the fourth inning of Thursday’s game. Boston’s 8-2 win over Cincinnati was overshadow­ed by Sale’s injury.

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