Many people have referred to Chris Sale as a "ticking time bomb" of sorts. No, Sale isn't a hot-head prone to spouting off at the slightest provocation, despite what last September's "binoculargate" game might suggest. Sale's unconventional and violent pitching motion has left pundits wondering when -- more so than if -- Sale will injure himself and require Tommy John surgery.
Well, Sale finally injured himself last week, but his left elbow is fine. Sale suffered an avulsion fracture in his right foot when unloading his truck at home on Friday. He is expected to miss three weeks, and will undergo further testing when the swelling in his foot decreases.
Sale's injury may not affect him by the time we reach Opening Day, but it could have some consequences in the early part of April. He will not be able to work through a typical throwing progression over the next few weeks, leaving him behind other pitchers on the staff come April. The White Sox have three off days scheduled within the first two weeks of the season. They visit Comerica Park on April 17-19, kicking off a stretch of 17 games without an off day.
Sale is coming off of his best season as a starter. He allowed a 2.17 ERA and 2.57 FIP in 174 innings in 2014, resulting in a third-place finish in the American League Cy Young Award voting. Sale's 208 strikeouts gave him the highest strikeout rate in the American League. Sale made his third consecutive All-Star team. An elbow strain early in the season held him to his lowest innings total as a starter, leaving him out of the two-man Cy Young race between Felix Hernandez and eventual winner Corey Kluber.
While the injury may affect how the White Sox use their rotation during the first few weeks of the season, it should not have a lasting impact on Sale's effectiveness. Sale likened the injury to an ankle sprain in this story by Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune, but bone healing time is quicker than that of a ligamentous injury. Once Sale is able to plant on his right foot without pain, he will be ready to resume his throwing program.
The injury may force the White Sox to call up top prospect Carlos Rodon sooner than expected. Rodon, the third overall pick in last year's amateur draft, is expected to join the Chicago rotation some time this season. He allowed a 2.96 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with 38 strikeouts and 13 walks in 24 1/3 innings in the minor leagues last year.