Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

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)

Red Sox starter Chris Sale has never been one to mince words.

It’s part of what’s made him such an endearing figure throughout his time with the Red Sox. Even when a seemingly neverending barrage of injuries kept him off the mound and away from the team that desperately needed his arm every fifth day.

But, as you would expect, when it came to that topic in a conversation with USA TODAY, Sale himself said something you’ve probably said — or at the very least thought — countless times over the last four years.

  • “I can’t look in the rear-view mirror because it’s been a [expletive] disaster,’’ a finally healthy Sale told Bob Nightengale. “A spade is a spade. It’s been an absolute disaster. I don’t shy away from that.”

    Sale might even be selling his run of bad luck short.

    Sale’s issues seemingly began late in his magical 2018 campaign, which was at times limited by a shoulder injury that caused some discomfort but ultimately ended in a World Series all the same.

    But a 2019 campaign came with some ugly numbers, and elbow issues that led to a career-worst 4.40 ERA and career-low 25 starts. And it only got worse from there, really, as Sale missed all of 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and had a delayed start to his 2021 due to the surgery recovery.

    2022 was where it all got legitimately silly for the lanky lefty, really, as he was limited to just 5.2 innings over two starts due to rib injuries, a broken pinkie, and a bike accident.

    All of this happened in the aftermath of Sale signing a five-year, $145 million extension with Boston just before the start of the 2019 season, too.

    Nightmare kind of stuff, and again, he knows it.

    “I was embarrassed by it because I wanted to be great,” Sale remarked. “I wanted to be that guy they paid all of that money to, to be that guy.”

  • In a rut that was almost all bad luck, the Sale contract was shaping up to be one of the worst in baseball.

    Sale’s start to the 2023 season didn’t do much to quell any anxiety on that front, either, as he surrendered 18 hits (five of which left the yard), seven walks, and 15 earned runs over his first three starts of the season, and with batters hitting almost .330 off him.

    But Sale has since been on a steady incline and showing signs of returning to the Sale of old.

    The veteran Sale has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his last seven starts. He’s had four separate outings of at least eight strikeouts over that span, and he’s surrendered more than six hits in just two of his seven appearances. Sale has also shown signs of being a ‘workhorse’ again, with multiple outings of at least 110 pitches, which is borderline unheard of in today’s game of hyper-managing starters.

    “I’m going out there and having fun again, and not throwing every pitch with three years of hate behind it,” Sale told Nightengale. “I’m going out there with the attitude that today is a new day. Take it for what it is. Appreciate it. Because I sure know it can be taken away.”

  • May 26, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    May 26, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Chase Field. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

  • There’s absolutely an element of enjoying the return of ‘Sale Days’ while you still have ’em. (I’m still kinda hoping that the Red Sox have locked his bicycle away for the year and I want him hitting the deck as best as a 6-foot-6 man can whenever there’s a comebacker heading his way.)

    That’s only natural given the way the bad luck has followed Sale since signing his mammoth extension.

    But there’s also something to be said for the honest approach Sale has taken to his injuries, and how he’s rebounded from them mentally. All while knowing what a ‘f–king disaster’ it’s been for his own game and his career’s trajectory and for a Sox team still chasing that high felt in 2018.

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