Chris Sale throws for the first time since elbow injury

The Major League Baseball season may be in limbo, but Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale still has work to do. Sale — who was sidelined early in spring training due to a flexor strain — resumed his throwing program Wednesday, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe.

Sale, 30, threw at the Red Sox’s spring facility in Florida. It was the first time Sale threw since being diagnosed with the injury.

Sale’s elbow troubles date back to last season, when the lefty was shut down in August due to elbow issues. He was unable to return for the Red Sox in September. Sale finished the season with an uncharacteristic 4.40 ERA over 147 1/3 innings. Sale’s had a 2.93 DRA — an advanced stat that predicts what a pitcher’s ERA should have been — suggesting Sale performed better than his 4.40 ERA.

Chris Sale had a rough spring training for Red Sox

Injury struggles followed Sale to spring training, where his start was delayed due to a bout with pneumonia. Once he got back on the mound, Sale experienced pain in his throwing elbow. An MRI revealed a flexor strain, and the Red Sox sought out multiple opinions regarding the issue. The team even sent the MRI to Dr. James Andrews, who is known for performing Tommy John surgery.

All parties agreed that surgery wasn’t necessary ... at least for now. Sale was instructed to take a few weeks off before throwing again. Sale missed roughly two-and-a-half weeks before throwing Wednesday.

Will Chris Sale be ready for the start of the 2020 MLB season?

With the start of the MLB season delayed, it’s unclear whether Sale will be ready in time for opening day. As long as Sale’s elbow tolerates throwing sessions, he’ll inch closer to full strength in the coming weeks. If the MLB season is pushed back to July —which some have speculated — Sale could take the hill for the Red Sox on opening day. That would not have been the case had the regular season started as planned.

All of that is assuming, of course, that Sale doesn’t experience any setbacks. Elbow injuries can be finicky for pitchers. In Sale’s case, it doesn’t help that he experienced arm issues last season. It could be a matter of time before his elbow finally gives out. While you could say that about any pitcher, Sale would appear to be at a higher risk than most to suffer an injury, especially considering he’s already dealt with two arm issues since August.

All the Red Sox can do is wait things out and see how Sale progresses. With Sale owed $145 million over the next five seasons, the Red Sox have every incentive to do what’s best for Sale’s future. That doesn’t include surgery ... at least, not right now.

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