That’s what the Red Sox announced Chris Sale “Today underwent open reduction and internal fixation of a proximal phalanx fracture of the left fifth finger.” While the timeline isn’t crystal clear at the moment, the team believes it’s still possible for Sale to return later this year. (Twitter links from MassLive’s Chris Cotillo and Chad Jennings from The Athletic.)
Yesterday, Sale had to abandon his start against the Yankees without getting out of the first inning after a comebacker hit his pitching hand, clearly injuring it. The Red Sox later announced that his pinky, or “left fifth finger,” was broken. After the game, Sale himself said he expects to be out for 4-6 weeks, although the fact that surgery was necessary raises the potential that a longer recovery time could be required.
In a longer look at the problem, Cotillo speaks to orthopedist Chris Geary, who believes Sale won’t even be able to pick up a ball for 4-6 weeks. That means it would be late August before Sale could even start bullpen sessions, which wouldn’t leave him much time to go on a rehab trip and get back into game shape, especially considering he’s currently has returned from another injury. After being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his rib cage in the spring, he missed the first few months of the season and only recently returned with a healthy start, followed by the start that broke his finger.
While the club believe Sale may still return at some point, they may have to assume his season is over, at least from a rotation perspective. Stepping up to shorter stints from the bullpen wouldn’t take as much time as returning to a starter’s full workload, which would make it easier for Sale to return as a helper.
The club has been particularly in rotation lately, with Snakebit rich hill, Michael Wacha, Connor Seabold and Josh Winckowski all ended up on the injured list in the last three weeks. With Sale sure to join them, Boston will be leaving on a rotation of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta and Cutter Crawford come off the All-Star break. James Paxton Still working backwards from Tommy John’s surgery in April 2021 but has yet to start a rehab assignment. Garret Whitlock was in rotation earlier this year but has just returned from his own stint in IL as a volunteer and is not yet fully utilized. outlook Brayan Bello made a few starts recently but conceded nine earned runs in eight innings.
These fights in the rotation coincided with a jump in the standings. Since June 26, they’ve won 6-14 and slipped two games back to the Blue Jays for the last American League wild card berth. The August 2nd trade deadline is now a little over two weeks away and they will certainly have to consider adding a few weapons even if some of their injured slingers make it back up the hill. However, if they continue to slide in the coming weeks, it could impact how aggressive they are willing to be.