Chris Sale wasn't available to the media yesterday to talk about his flexor muscle injury, which left everybody to take Rick Hahn's positive word for it.
But Sale picked up where Hahn left off and cranked up the enthusiasm about the elbow MRI a couple notches.
"The first words out of the doctor’s mouth was, ‘Your UCL looks excellent,’" Sale said. "It’s just flexor inflammation. I don’t know if it’s a strain or not. I heard ‘UCL was excellent’ and I walked out. That’s all I needed to hear."
He also said dealing with soreness the last two seasons makes it easier to deal with this episode.
"Very confident," said Sale, who along with other Sox representatives, denied a report that suggested the pitcher would get plasma injections into the afflicted area. "Obviously in years past, it is what it is and I’ve moved past it. I don’t see anything different happening this time. I actually have a little bit more time than I did in previous year."
The plasma-injection report was from Will Carroll, who cited "sources." Carroll often does good work, but it's hard to know how much he knows about this situation considering he said this is Sale's first bout with elbow soreness.
Anyway, this is as positive as it can be. Gavin Floyd asked for a second opinion shortly after the first MRI, and it doesn't sound like Sale needs another one. That's about all that can be established until Sale is eligible to return from the DL on May 3.
Robin Ventura also downplayed the injury ...
"This is all erring on the side of caution and I’d rather be over on that side," Ventura said. "He’s been through it before, it’s not something new for him. A guy like him doesn’t like missing starts. He’s a little uncomfortable with that part of it, but in the end he’s going to be healthy."
And it's funny he should say "erring on the side of caution," because when he was asked about the 127-pitch outing that preceded the soreness, he wasn't quite as willing to apply the same sentiment there:
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.’’ [...]
"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."
Sure, not all pitch counts are created equal, but it's hard to see how throwing the 25 most stressful pitches of the night after the 100-pitch mark is a good idea in any case besides a do-or-die game. I don't expect the Sox to treat this season as "meaningless" until the standings tell them to turn to 2015, but there is a big-picture approach that doesn't involve raising the white flag, too.
Thanks to a few nice outings from Ronald Belisario and Zach Putnam, Ventura may finally have four relievers he entrusts to throw an inning, so he won't feel compelled to use four in one inning, which set up the whole redlining of Sale in the first place.
Conor Gillaspie joined Adam Eaton on the injured-but-not-disabled list (the unabled list?) with a sore left hand. He missed Tuesday night's game, and he's expected to miss tonight's as well.
Gillaspie is expected to miss Tuesday and Wednesday with soreness in his left hand, located on the pad on his palm beneath his thumb. He said the area has "gotten jammed" a couple of times and thinks he will start wearing a pad on his hand to help the injury heal.
"If it was an important playoff game, I’d probably suck it up and play, but I really don’t want this nagging on all year," Gillaspie said. "Any time you go out there thinking more about how something hurts than your job it’s kind of like, ‘I’m not really sure how much I can help tonight.’"
That means when Paul Konerko took over for Jose Abreu and Adrian Nieto replaced Tyler Flowers after the sixth, Ventura practically had emptied his bench.
As for Eaton, it's hard to tell how soon he can return from his hamstring injury thanks to the introduction of a knee brace. There's this:
Eaton ran stairs, did some lunges and even ran some incline, during which everything went well. He declared himself at 95 percent, but still missed a third straight game because of the injury.
And then there's this:
"Apparently there's a tendon that is kind of rolling over on the inside back part of my knee. It's been kind of an easier fix," Eaton said. "We're making sure the tendon doesn't move and that equals no pain."
Gordon Beckham is toiling away in Birmingham, playing every day, but not exactly lighting it up, at .179/.256/.308 over 39 at-bats. The Sox haven't been in a rush to bring him back, but they've been pointing to the weekend series at home against Tampa as a possible window to re-entry.
Beckham's career averages would be an upgrade over Marcus Semien's current line (.233/.271/.367, and a team-leading 26 strikeouts). Semien has shown some toughness, though -- hitting second while playing multiple positions is a difficult assignment for a rookie, but he hasn't let slumps crush his spirit.
Jeff Keppinger posted a couple dispatches from extended spring training:
Thanks peeps for the BDay wishes! Looking forward to a nice day of rehab. Shoulder is getting real close:)— Jeff Keppinger (@JKeppinger) April 21, 2014
1-3 today and played 6 innings at 3rd!!! Things are starting to look up:)— Jeff Keppinger (@JKeppinger) April 21, 2014
A day before, Robin Ventura wasn't nearly as cheery. Daryl Van Schouwen says that Keppinger is considered an "afterthought."