Chris Sale was electric in his rehab start Thursday with the Portland Sea Dogs, striking out seven and only allowing one run over four innings. It was a tantalizing reminder of just how dominant he can be.
But his comments afterward ruined the feel-good night.
Can the Red Sox count on Chris Sale?
Sale remains unvaccinated, and last September, he tested positive for Covid as part of the Red Sox’ outbreak that almost torpedoed their season. When Sale was asked about his vaccination status Thursday, the left-hander was dismissive.
“I just had a lot of fun. Let’s not ruin that, all right?,” he told reporters. “I’m enjoying this process. I appreciate being where I’m at and what I’m doing. Today’s today. Tomorrow’s gonna come. We’ll figure that s— out then, man.”
Those are some bad quotes, man. The Red Sox saw this week what happens when key players aren’t vaccinated, and thus, can’t play against the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Red Sox blew Tuesday’s game in the ninth inning, as the Jays feasted off of relievers Tyler Danish and Hansel Robles. Closer Tanner Houck, who’s unvaccinated, was left behind in Boston.
Canada mandates that all visitors be vaccinated. The rule may be draconian, but it’s still the rule. Houck chose his personal freedom over his teammates.
It cost the Red Sox, just like in April, when his absence forced the Red Sox to move Garrett Whitlock to the rotation. Boston blew a ninth-inning lead in that series against the Blue Jays, too.
The Red Sox will play their last road series of the year in Toronto. If the season ended today, they would play three road games against the Jays in the playoffs.
It would be enraging if Sale couldn’t pitch in those contests.
Let’s be honest: Sale is a glorified sunk cost at this point. Since 2018, he’s missed time due to Tommy John surgery, shoulder inflammation, elbow inflammation, and most recently, a rib stress fracture.
He was OK in nine outings last year, struggling immensely against the moribund Orioles and Nationals in his final two appearances. His playoff performance was even worse. Sale allowed eight earned runs in nine innings of work.
Maybe he’s all better now. Sale said Thursday he’s waiting for a call from the Red Sox and can’t wait to get back to Boston.
Too bad he doesn’t seem as excited about ensuring he’ll be there for his teammates when he returns.