The Chicago White Sox don't seem to have a coherent plan for pitcher Chris Sale anymore. The 23-year-old lefty will undergo an MRI on his left elbow after experiencing soreness in five starts as an MLB starter. This "elbow tenderness" first prompted a move to the bullpen and an announcement that Sale would take over the job as closer, but pitching coach Don Cooper has left the door open for Sale to return to the rotation. As Cooper told Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune: "If and when we sit down and talk, if we decide he goes back out to start, he goes out to start. If not, he's in the pen...We got (him) some work as a starter, and he did well."
Manager Robin Ventura might be somewhere in the same book, but he's certainly not on the same page as Cooper. When asked about Sale possibly returning to the rotation, he said ""I'm not saying it can't (happen), but I would be surprised if it did." The lanky left-hander has unquestionably succeeded in his role as a starter -- going 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA with 29 strikeouts and eight walks over 32 innings -- but there have always been questions about how his elbow would hold up with such a violent delivery. Sale's pitching motion take the shape of a so-called "inverted W," which puts an immense amount of stress on the elbow and often causes issues with the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow joint.
Sale didn't seem to excited about his move back to the bullpen, and it showed during his last appearance against the Indians, but even he is willing to take a wait-and-see approach with Thursday's MRI. Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the situation is that the White Sox haven't presented a reasonable and consistent plan for where to go from here.
Jim Margalus of South Side Sox summed up the strange vibe around the entire situation very nicely:
If the Sox have a plan, here's what it looks like from their actions alone:
I'm not sure about Step 7, but it's the only one that makes sense. Waffles are an anytime food.
- Let Sale prepare as a starter all offseason and spring.
- Offer unwavering support regardless of spring numbers or performances.
- Bail on the plan at the first sign of irregular soreness, regardless of Sale's sentiments, and name him closer in an attempt to also solve ninth-inning issues.
- Announce a new plan to the media via multiple people throwing out contradictory statements.
- Reconsider Sale's sentiments after the news is received well by precisely nobody.
- Get waffles.
Stay tuned for the results of the MRI, because it might have a big impact on the future of the White Sox.
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