It is really easy to blame Robin Ventura for Chris Sale's trip to the disabled list. His decision to allow Sale to pitch a career high 127 pitches in his last start seems like a bad idea. As Will Carroll points out, however, we can't point for certain to this specific incident as the cause of the injury. Also the White Sox might be playing things extremely safe and the long term risk is relatively low. He had two outings of 124 pitches last season and didn't miss a beat.
If there is anything similar regarding this injury and his other shoulder injuries, they all seemed to have come fairly early in the season. Thanks to South Side Sox for the time line. This could be another case of, basically, needing to rest a little more in the early going before he is good and stretched out. Also, after a quick twitter exchange with Will Carroll, he confirmed something that I know I've read elsewhere, shoulder injuries tend to be worse for pitchers than elbow injuries. Finally and not to split hairs, but according to the official report it's a flexor strain not ligament damage or a tear. Admittedly I'm not an elite athlete, not even close, but I run a fair amount, having completed two marathons and a few half marathons. One thing I've learned? I have horrible hip flexors and sometimes they hurt like hell.
Yes my hips and Sale's elbows have little in common, thank god. In general terms though, sometimes my soreness keeps me off the running trail, sometimes I can run through it and sometimes it doesn't bother me at all. If it is only a muscular problem, speaking from experience and a lot of reading about running injuries and fitness, it isn't that serious. The bad news is that problems with muscle groups like flexors, be it hips, elbows, knees, glutes and the like it tend to be chronic. One day I'm running twenty miles on a cloud, the next three-miler I feel like I'm 70. There is no telling.
If Sale comes back and is fine the rest of the way, then this is just a blip on the radar. The White Sox may have to seriously think about how they use Sale in the early going as well. Maybe some extra rest in the beginning of the season, a skipped start here and there through April and May will be the way to go. I'd much rather have Sale pitching more in September than in April.
Having said all of this, thinking as positive as I can, I'm still uneasy. I hate to think that this is the beginning of more and more complicated problems for Chris Sale. When he makes his next start, I'll be holding my breath a little bit. And probably the start after that. More than anything, the fears of Chris Sale and his disturbing delivery have resurfaced and will be with us every time he has a twinge or soreness or trip to the DL. Yesterday reminded us all how special and fragile an ace can be.
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