The team announced Sunday that their projected Opening Day starter suffered a right foot fracture and will miss three weeks of baseball activity.
The decision suggests that the White Sox remain hopeful that Sale will return by the April 6 season opener at Kansas City.
Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Hector Noesi will remain in their regularly scheduled starting spots, and if Sale isn’t ready to go by the opener, an adjustment can be made later in the spring.
That does mean, though, that there will be some innings to fill in spring games. General manager Rick Hahn suggested that Carlos Rodon, Brad Penny, Scott Carroll, Francellis Montas and Chris Beck could all absorb some of the innings Sale was scheduled to pitch in early Cactus League action.
If Sale doesn’t return by Opening Day, that doesn’t necessarily mean the White Sox will have to fill his rotation spot immediately. Because of off days early in the schedule, the White Sox can get away with just four starters until April 12, a full week into the season.
“You make adjustments,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You just keep going. I know guys would like to have him in there but it’s not going to be that way. So you keep going, keep rolling. Next man up, fill in, get it done. When he’s back ready, he’s going to come in and fill his spot.”
Depending on how much time Rodon gets in Sale’s absence, he could end up with the opportunity he needed to open some eyes. The club’s first-round draft pick from last season is projected to be a top-of-the rotation pitcher in time, but could wind up pitching out of the White Sox’s bullpen this season, or return to Triple-A to be a starter in waiting.
“It doesn’t change anything, just stay on the same path I’ve been on,” Rodon said Saturday. “Just take it day by day and work just as hard.”