BOSTON (CBS) — Chris Sale will not be Boston’s Opening Day starter. In fact, he won’t even be on the Red Sox Opening Day roster.
That’s because the lefty will start the season on the Injured List, interim manager Ron Roenicke announced on Thursday. Sale is about two weeks behind schedule this spring, leaving the Boston rotation extremely thin to start the 2020 season.
Sale didn’t seem too happy about the news, but ultimately said his feelings don’t matter when it comes to what’s better for the team.
“I’ve let other people do my job and pick up my slack for long enough. It was a gut punch,” he told reporters in Fort Myers, Florida. “When we were in that meeting, I said the only thing this hurts is my ego and that doesn’t matter.
“Sometime’s you have to take it off the chin for the better of the team, and that’s where we’re at,” he said. “I think this is the best plan going forward.”
Sale starting the season on the IL isn’t ideal, especially coming off an injury plagued 2019 campaign. But if there is any good news to take away from Thursday’s announcement, it’s that Sale’s elbow is not a factor this time around, and it doesn’t sound like this will be a long term issue. Roenicke said the delayed start stems from Sale’s recovery from pneumonia, and that the lefty’s arm is healthy. The new skipper said the team would like to see Sale make six starts before he pitches in the regular season.
“I think they just want me to get fully stretched out and get where I need to be,” said Sale. “I started two weeks late so I’ve got to stay two weeks late. Simple math will tell you that kind of makes sense. Do I like it? Absolutely not. Do I respect it? One hundred percent.”
Still, this isn’t good news for the Red Sox, who are heading into the season with just four bona fide starters. At the moment, they’re looking at Ryan Weber as their fifth starter, with the potential of using an “opener” in that spot. Now, with Sale beginning the season on the shelf, Roenicke has two holes to fill in his rotation.
The Red Sox open their 2020 season on March 26 against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Sale had been the team’s Opening Day starter in each of the last two seasons.