Oh, Chris Sale can talk a good game. The problem is that he doesn’t really pitch one anymore.
And so the rhetoric, while somewhat commendable, is just that.
In case you missed it, Sale spoke with the media over the weekend regarding the 2022 season, another lost year for the balsa left-hander. Presumably, Sale will pitch again for the Red Sox this year. We think. How long he stays out there what he contributes is a complete crapshoot, something on which no one should be relying.
“I owe everybody.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 15: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 15, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Over the weekend, that was the meat of Sale’s comments to the media, which is true. He generally doesn’t hide behind his words or try to sugarcoat them. But it honestly doesn’t matter anymore. Over the last three seasons – the first three years of a five-year, $145 million contract – Sale has pitched in a combined 13 regular and postseason games. In 57.1 innings, he has allowed 62 hits, 32 runs (25 earned, a 3.92 ERA) and eight homers. Because of some deferred money in his contract, he has counted for only $76.8 million against the luxury tax, an average of $25.6 million per season.
“I owe everybody,” Sale said over the weekend. “I owe my teammates the starting pitcher they thought they were gonna get. I owe the front office the starting pitcher they paid for, and I owe the fans the performances that they’re paying to come and see.”
He sure does.
Is anyone else tired of waiting for them?
Spring 2022 – The rib injury
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 20: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox is taken out of their game against the Houston Astros in the sixth inning of Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 20, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Are the injuries all Sale’s fault? Of course not. Some of them are bad luck. Some of them are curious. Last spring, while throwing during the work stoppage between owners and players, Sale suffered a stress fracture in his ribcage. He ended up missing half the season. As much as the injury was fluky, it also further demonstrated Sale’s brittle nature and further called into question his latest contract.
Is Sale to blame for that deal? No. He had injury problems before he signed it. Then-GM Dave Dombrowski pushed for the new deal. Ownership signed off on it. Sale has given the Red Sox almost nothing since.
“I’m not broken anymore.”
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JULY 12: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 12, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Remember this line? Sale uttered it on July 12 of last year, when he returned to the Red Sox rotation for a game at Tampa and defeated Corey Kluber. In his last inning of work, especially, he showed flashes of his former self. Sale threw 78 pitches and hit 96.9 mph on the radar gun, which felt like a step in the right direction. It was pretty much the last step he took.
“I’m not broken anymore,” he uttered. “It’s different this year. It’s definitely different this year. That’s all I’ve really got to say.”
As it turned out, nothing was really different at all.
“I just want to play baseball. I’ve had so many things take that away from me. It sucks.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 17: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox leaves the field with a dislocated pinky finger after getting hit by a line drive from Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees in the first inning at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
This comment came less than a week later, on July 17, after Sale was hit by a line drive against the New York Yankees in his second start of the season. Sale fractured his pinky and was lost for a series of weeks, at least most of the season’s balance. There was hope he could return late in the year if the Red Sox were in playoff contention, which they ultimately were not.
“This is almost a bigger blow than the other [injuries] ones because it’s unexpected,” Sale said. “I felt good.”
More unexpected things were coming.
The bike accident
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: Christian Vazquez #7 jumps into the arms of Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox to celebrate their 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five to win the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Late last season, Sale was reportedly riding his bike when, in the words of Chaim Bloom, Sale “hit something” and crashed. He broke his wrist and was lost for the balance of the season. Sale recently detailed the incident, but it took months for him to do and the accident was curious at the time. And it still is.
“I don’t really remember the crash a whole lot, but I just know that handlebars went hard left. I didn’t even go over the handlebars. It just really kind of threw me straight to the ground like I just went kind of like this,” Sale said. “Next thing I know my wrist is looking that way and had to make some phone calls.”
I don’t really remember the crash a while lot.
Again, it’s hard to blame him for some of this stuff. He generally says all the right things. He has repeatedly said he owes something to fans, teammates and the Red Sox – like someone who acknowledges a debt … but never pays it.
You can keep waiting for the payback if you’d like.
I’d suggest ignoring the words – however sincere they may (or may not) be – and generally dismissing him from your consciousness until there is a reason to change.