The only bit of good news Sale received after going on the injured list and receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing left elbow is that he won't require Tommy John surgery. And while the Boston Red Sox southpaw confirmed Tuesday that his season is likely over, he sees no reason why a return to form in 2020 won't happen.
"I'm very confident," Sale said about being fully healthy for spring training, according to Christopher Smith of MassLive. "I know who I am and what I can do on the baseball field."
The 30-year-old will now rest for six weeks and then be re-examined by Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist who administered his PRP injection.
Sale continued to rack up the strikeouts this season - he passed the 200-K mark for a seventh straight year and still leads the league with a 13.3 K/9 - but was otherwise a shadow of himself. He posted career-worst marks in virtually every other category, and his 4.40 ERA was almost a full run more than his previous high.
His down year didn't help a Boston squad that has come up well short of expectations after winning the World Series in 2018. The Red Sox, hampered by inconsistent pitching all year, sit six games out of a playoff spot with 36 contests remaining.
"This whole season's been kind of a grind," Sale said. "Everybody talks about last season being the dream season. Personally, this has been kind of a nightmare season."
Sale took solace in the fact that his injury could have been significantly worse. Had he torn a ligament and required surgery, he would have likely been forced to miss all of next season - the first year of his $145-million extension.
"He (Dr. Andrews) checked it out and we got some better news obviously, not great news, but about as good as we could get," Sale said, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne.