Chris Sale Sends Strong Message on Red Sox Career: ‘It Consumes You’

Chris Sale, former Red Sox ace

Getty Chris Sale, former Red Sox ace

There are a few ways former Red Sox ace Chris Sale could look back on his time in Boston. One would be to focus on the good that came out of it. He was acquired by the Red Sox in 2016 for four players to be the pitcher who could put them over the top for a World Series run, and sure enough, he did just that in 2018, when he was an All-Star and went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA before helping Boston to a championship.

Or Sale could look at his time for that which he did not accomplish. He signed a five-year, $145 million extension after that World Series, and from there, simply could not stay healthy enough to pitch. He made just 31 appearances from 2020-23, going 11-7 with a 3.93 ERA in that stretch. The Red Sox finally offloaded Sale this winter in a trade to the Braves, for second baseman Vaughn Grissom.

In an extensive conversation with ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Sale talked about the difficulty of looking back on what happened with the Red Sox. It chewed him up, he said.

“It consumes you at the time. When everything’s good, everything’s great, right? And when everything’s bad, it’s never going to be good. Now I know … you have to do the same things whether you’re successful or not successful. And I think sometimes I can get lost,” Sale said.

Red Sox Career Torpedoed by Injuries, Bad Luck

The concerns about Sale stretched back to his high point in Boston, when the Red Sox beat the Dodgers for the 2018 World Series title. Even during that season, he was slowed by a shoulder problem which probably cost him a Cy Young award.

In 2019, things spiraled. Sale posted a 6-11 record and had an ERA of 4.40, and was pulled from the rotation with elbow inflammation. In 2020, it was an entire season missed for Tommy John surgery, and most of 2021, too.

For Sale, 2022 was truly cursed, as he started the year on the IR because of a rib injury, came back and took a hard hit ball that broke his his finger. He later broke his wrist in a biking accident.

Thinking about his time with the Red Sox, then, is not exactly pleasant for Sale.

“It’s a double-edged sword for me,” Sale says. “The whole reason I got traded [to Boston] was to help them win a World Series. And I feel satisfied in doing that. It’s just obviously what happened after that. That’s just one of the bigger regrets in my life. It’ll always be. They made a commitment to me, and I didn’t live up for that. We made a deal: ‘We’re going to give you this because you’ve done this and you’re going to continue to do that.’ Well, I didn’t hold up my end.”

Chris Sale Could Find Redemption With Braves

But, as always, sports offers a chance at redemption, and Sale will, at least, get a shot to make good as his career nears its end. In Atlanta, which has arguably the strongest starting rotation in baseball, Sale will be a No. 4 starter, not expected to carry the load as an ace.

The Braves should be one of the best teams in baseball, coming off a year in which they won 104 games and then were ousted by the Phillies in the NLDS. Sale’s mission is to do what he can to help Atlanta replicate his Red Sox achievement—win the World Series. He even volunteered to come out of the bullpen if it was determined that is what Atlanta needed to win.

“I got one in the AL,” Sale said. “Let’s get one in the NL.”


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