Chris Sale considers 2018 shoulder problems a thing of the past

Nick Friar
March 11, 2019 - 5:04 pm

FORT MYERS—After reaching the 200-inning mark for the fourth time in five years in 2017, Chris Sale missed roughly two months of 2018 with shoulder problems, never fully rebounding in the postseason. Coming on the heels of a Sale's fatigued 2017 postseason, Red Sox manager Alex Cora entered 2018 with a new spring training approach for the lefty, as well as the rest of the starting rotation.

The Red Sox have taken a similar approach with Sale this spring and Boston's ace remains confident 2018's shoulder problems are behind him.

"We've been full-go since I started throwing, honestly," he said. "I think I started throwing right around December, late November right around Thanksgiving, just after that. It was kind of a non-issue, honestly, because we knew what it was before and we knew what we were dealing with. Just needed some time to take off and got the time to take off and now we're rolling again."

However, Sale himself made some adjustments in preparation for 2019, all coming prior to the start of spring training.

"I think that was more addressed in the offseason just with the training program, with the shoulder program, throwing program," he said. "Like I said, this was kind of a full circle off-season for me with lifting, running and training room stuff. I think all those things were the build-up to where we are now and I think that's going to hopefully get us over the hump throughout the year and towards the end of the year."

Sale faced hitters for the second time this spring on Monday as part of a minor league simulated game. He threw three innings, tossing 15 pitches per frame. Of his 45 pitches, 33 were strikes. Sale struck out five, walked one, hit one and gave up one run on three hits, including an RBI double.

Four of Sale's five punchouts came via the fastball, two looking. His other strikeout came on a slider in a three-pitch at-bat where the hitter froze after seeing a fastball and changeup.

The Red Sox are also monitoring Sale's velocity in order to ensure he's not going full-tilt too early. Sale was told where his velocity was after the outing, but would not share the information; though he did admit he had more in the tank if needed.

"Don't worry about all that," Sale said. "Got to keep something from you guys and make it fun."

No plans regarding Sale's next appearance have been made official. At this point, all he expects is to face hitters again in five days. If it's not in a Grapefruit League game, Sale is fine with that. In fact, he doesn't feel it's necessary for him to appear in a real game until the regular season commences.

"I mean, I know once I step on a mound, regular season game it's going to be the same," he said. "I don't want to sound like an old man, but I've done this a few times. So I'm not too worried about once the lights flick on. I know what I'm capable of and once the adrenaline starts flowing, any process is thrown out the window and it's go-time then."

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