Red Sox starter Chris Sale traveled to Pensacola, Fla. on Monday -- accompanied by head athletic trainer Brad Pearson -- to get a second opinion on his ailing left elbow from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.
Andrews found that Sale was indeed dealing with inflammation and treated Sale with a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection. He also recommended that Sale refrain from throwing and will be re-evaluated in six weeks, or, about the end of the regular season.
Here are some thoughts:
1. The odds were are against good news, but not unprecedented
While pitchers traveling to see Dr. Andrews don't always come away with a dire diagnosis -- former Red Sox starter Josh Beckett visited Andrews in 2008 and was told that his elbow was structurally sound and that no surgery would be necessary -- such cases, frankly, are the exception rather than the rule.
Traditionally, pitchers making the trek to the panhandle are merely getting confirmation of a previous diagnosis, and often, that translates into Tommy John surgery.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, surgery has been ruled out -- at least for now. It also almost certainly means that he will not pitch again in 2019, dealing a big blow to the team's already-longshot wild card hopes. The Sox were already scrambling to fill out their rotation, and now can't lean on Sale for the stretch run.
In the big picture, however, that's a small price to play.
Had Sale been facing with Tommy John surgery, it would have meant he wouldn't pitch again until 2021. Recovery time for pitchers is typically 12-15 months and even if Sale had been on the short side of that timetable, that would take him into late August of next season.
Even if a less serious option would be less invasive procedure — removal of bone chips, say, not unlike what Nathan Eovaldi underwent earlier this year -- Sale would still presumably be ready for spring training.
Frankly, Monday's outcome was something of a surprise. The fact that Sale "need(ed) a couple of days'' before addressing the media, according to Dave Dombrowski, surely didn't bode well and suggested Sale already feared on Saturday that he was likely facing a worst-case scenario.
And perhaps he was. But for now, the Red Sox have dodged a big one.
2. No easy replacements on the horizon.