BOSTON (CBS) — It has been exactly one year since Chris Sale made his last start for the Boston Red Sox. His next start in a Boston uniform won’t come anytime soon, but the Red Sox ace’s spirits are surprisingly high as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
Sale went under the knife in March and likely won’t be back in the Boston rotation until the middle of the 2021 season. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a fierce competitor like Sale, especially when you add in the fact that he can’t get his competitive juices flowing on the golf course, either.READ MORE: I-Team: Judge Denies State Police Request To Delay Vaccine Mandate
But he’s taking an optimistic approach to his rehab, and right now, Sale is enjoying life down in Florida, where he lives during the offseason. On a Thursday morning Zoom call with reporters, Sale said that he’s busting his backside every day as he works towards throwing for the first time since surgery. That should come sometime later this month or early September.
Until then, the lefty has a rather interesting routine in a rather interesting spot at JetBlue Park. The COVID-19 pandemic has moved everything outdoors, so Sale is doing everything outside near the team’s batting cage. And we mean everything.
His small plot serves as his weight room, his training room, and his locker. He doesn’t even have his own shower. Instead, he uses a hose. Not exactly star treatment for the Boston ace, but he doesn’t mind.
“The hose is a little cold,” Sale said Thursday. “But it’s fun.”
Fun is the magic word for Sale at the moment. Despite the fact that he can’t really compete at anything right now, and has to use a hose to shower at the ballpark, he is keeping it positive.
Rehab isn’t supposed to be an enjoyable undertaking, but believe it or not, Sale is having a blast.
“Not a lot of people can say that about a rehab process,” he said. “So far everything has been great.”READ MORE: 'He Never Would Tell Us': Gardner Museum Hopeful For New Info After Death Of Connecticut Mobster
Sale said that he’s hit all his check marks so far, and is eager to keep the process going. Since he can’t throw right now, he has been dissecting everything about his pitching motion, from his delivery to his legwork to anything and everything in between.
“That’s the beauty of all this, that I can really focus on everything. From ankle stability to my knees, my hips, my back. We have so much time and that’s a good and a bad thing,” he said. “I’m itching to get back out there, but we can take the time to break everything down and see where the kink in the armor was. I have a bad elbow, but it stems from other things. We’re chasing down the rabbit hole to find those things and work our way up.
“Building a better foundation is going to be better for the long haul,” he added. “I know what I mean to this team, the money I’m getting paid — all that stuff. I threw all of that stuff out. I can’t live up to those expectations with a hole in my arm.”
It hasn’t all been easy, however. Learning that he would need Tommy John was a difficult day, and the days that followed weren’t easy, either. Sale said this is the first year that he hasn’t played baseball since he was three years old, so the mental aspect of the rehab has been just as tough as the physical part.
But Sale isn’t going to let any negativity creep into his mind.
“I get to get my body in shape to do this for another 10 years. My body broke down, so now I’m going to build it back up,” he said. “I only have one shot tor rehab my arm and do it the right way. If I do that reluctantly or in a negative way, it’s going to suck. And I’ve heard those stories, and I’ve had none of that. The people I have in my corner and around me have made this not miserable.”
Sale certainly misses being around his teammates, but he isn’t thinking about that part of it while he’s putting in work in Florida. It has been tough to watch the team struggle from afar, but he knows there really isn’t anything he can do about it right now. He would love to be around the team and serve as a voice for Boston’s younger pitches, but that just isn’t possible given the league’s protocols and restrictions due to COVID-19.
So for now, Sale is going to go about his work and continue to focus on himself. Whenever he takes the mound for the Red Sox again, he wants to be even better than he was before.MORE NEWS: 'Excited For The Future': Team IMPACT Celebrates 10 Years At Gillette Stadium
“I’m not worried about the date as much as I just want to pitch again,” he said. “And you’re going to know. There is going to be a day when I pitch and they’re going to know that I’m ready to go. Whenever that day is, we’re going to go.”