DETROIT – Sale is relieved, and confident.
Relieved that there is no damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, and confident he’ll miss two starts and be back pitching again in two weeks.
“Without a doubt,’’ he said. “Any time you have something going on that you are not quite certain of, you want to get down to the bottom of it regardless of whether it’s good bad or indifferent. Fortunately for us yesterday, it was as good of news as we could have possibly gotten.’’
As of April 16, 20 pitchers had gone down needy Tommy John surgery, and that count put Sale on edge when he went for an MRI Monday.
“I think just with kind of the way spring training and the year unfolds for a lot of pitchers, it made me a little bit more nervous just because you don’t know,’’ he said Tuesday, standing at his locker in the visitors clubhouse at Comerica Park. “The thing that kind of helped me out was it was the same soreness that I usually have after a start. It was just more of it in the same spot.’’
When Sale heard a doctor say that his UCL was “excellent” he walked out of the room.
“That’s all I needed to hear,’’ he said.
Sale said his elbow has been sore while he pitches and after his last start against the Red Sox Thursday, it felt more sore than it usually does afterward.
“I had a tougher time bouncing back,’’ said Sale, who after playing catch on Monday went to trainer Herm Schneider and Sox brain trust to talk it over. It’s the same thing he felt, he said, as the May 2012 setback in Detroit that temporarily moved him to the bullpen.
“I would almost say identical,’’ he said. “Obviously I didn’t have to go on the DL then.’’
Rather than push Sale back a few days and put pressure on the rest of the pitching staff, the Sox decided to protect their two-time All-Star, have him miss starts in Detroit and against the Tampa Bay Rays at home and re-evalute in a couple of weeks. Left-hander Charlie Leesman was called up to face Justin Verlander on Tuesday night.
Sale downplayed the signficance of throwing a career-high 127 pitches in his last outing. Ventura suggested that Sale going down afterward probably won’t alter his thought process on pitch counts and his ace.
“Nah, it depends on how he’s feeling,’’ Ventura said. “Depending on how the game is going. You can let him go in certain types of games, I think that was one to let him go.’’
It’s like Ventura said, that’s what No. 1’s do
“And if you take him out you’re going to hear that, too, so I don’t necessarily worry about that part of it,’’ he said.
“It’s more of how he’s feeling and when he ‘s out there and watching him pitch. That’s the bigger decision to make than just how many pitches he’s thrown.
Sale wasn’t sure if the high workload was a factor. He said it was probably something that happened by chance.
“I mean, I don’t know. I don’t think it has anything major to do with it,’’ he said. “Obviously it’s early in the season. It could have had something to do with it, but I don’t put too much emphasis on the pitch count or anything like that.’’
Sale was placed on the 15-day DL Tuesday retroactive to Friday, so he’d able to come off May 3 when the Sox are in Cleveland. He said he’s sure he’ll be back when his time is up.
“Absolutely. Without a doubt, I have no reason to believe not,’’ he said.