Chris Sale says his rehab changed his relationship with baseball: 'I learned to be more appreciative'


Chris Sale says he’s never felt better on the mound.

That’s the best thing the Red Sox could hear.

In an interview Tuesday with OMF as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Sale opened up about the growth he’s experienced since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year — both personally and professionally.

From a pitching standpoint, the seven-time All-Star says he feels like he’s in complete control on the mound, even with slightly decreased velocity.

“I feel like I’m in as good of a spot as I’ve ever been in,” Sale said. “I know more what I’m doing than I ever did. I was able to kind of figure a lot of things out. I feel like I’ve created better keys than I did in the past to get back going again.”

As an example, Sale referenced his first start against the Orioles, in which the Red Sox won 16-2. After allowing back-to-back homers in the third inning, Sale was able to buckle down and throw two more scoreless frames. He credits his newfound perspective for calming him down.

“I know that I’m not at the strongest I’m ever going to be post-surgery — I know that. But in terms of the velocity and things like that, I think that helped me out a lot, too — just giving up on that,” Sale said. “I think that me going out there, I’m more competing opposed to trying to flash. I’m getting outs in whatever way I can. I’m not out here to just blow up the gun. But if it comes back, we’re gonna use it.”

So far, Sale has been a godsend to the slumping Sox, winning his first two starts and posting a 1.80 ERA. He says spending nearly two years away from the game helped him appreciate everything so much more.

“I can put it in simple form: If you really like eating cake, and someone takes cake away for two years, and then you get it back again, you’re going to be fired up,” he said. “I never knew how much I loved playing baseball until it was gone.”

Though the Red Sox are struggling now, Sale is still appreciating each day; a message he’s trying to instill in his younger teammates. He also thanks his months away for that. For the first time, Sale was exposed to his baseball mortality.

“I felt like through this process, I learned to be more appreciative of it, and knowing that maybe I took some days for granted,” he said. "I could’ve been better in the past as a teammate, as a competitor, things like that, nothing this doesn’t last forever. I don’t know how much it’s going to last. You see it all the time: teammates coming in and out of the door. Some of them think they’re going to be there for a while, and some of them are. Some of them think they’re going to be there for a while, and they’re not. You never know when that day is going to be your day. Whenever that day comes up, I’ll be more ready for it. But I’ll be able to appreciate what I’ve done whenever that day comes.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports