Chris Sale

Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

Chris Sale tries, fails to take it easy in dominant spring training debut

John Tomase
March 09, 2018 - 4:43 pm

So much for taking it easy.

Chris Sale may have started spring late compared to last year, but he seemed determined to make up for lost time with four outstanding innings against the Marlins on Friday.

Sale came out of the gate throwing 96 mph in the first inning and stayed strong throughout, striking out five and throwing all of his pitches while allowing two hits and a run.

The plan this spring had been for Sale slowly to build up to season-ready, but those plans went out the window, at least for an inning, once his adrenaline kicked in.

"Kind of had to change it up a little bit after that," Sale told reporters. "Talked to (pitching coach) Dana (LeVangie) in the dugout. Still working on that buildup. It's tough. You get out there for the first time and there's a crowd, you're playing against a different team. You want to go out there and compete. At the same time, you've got to know what the end goal is, and we're working towards that."

The goal is to keep Sale strong in October, since he noticeably wore down over the final two months last year. Easing off the accelerator isn't easy for the hyper-competitive Sale.

"We kind of came to that together," Sale told reporters. "I was just like, 'Hey, it's hard for me.' It's not easy to go out there and, not dial it back, but kind of trust the process. Like I said, you get out there for the first time against a different team in a different stadium and you get going. But in the end, we were right where we needed to be."

Sale did ramp back over his final three innings.

"It's part of this process that we're on right now," Sale said. "This is starting here and we're going through October and maybe into November. We have a plan set. We have kind of a process that we've talked about. Just trying to stay on track."

Sale discussed the changes he hopes will keep him strong all year.

"Just game management -- tempo, rhythm and just kind of keeping my head on my shoulders," he said. "Things start going south, it's easy to kind of try to reach back and get more, and that's when you create waste pitches. You go out there and you throw three waste pitches an inning, or two an inning, over the course of an entire year, that builds up. I think that's where we're at, just trying to eliminate those along with some things to do in between days with recovery and conditioning and things like that."

Manager Alex Cora liked what he saw from Sale in the 5-4 loss.

"At the end of the day, his stuff is unreal," Cora told reporters. "This is a guy that I was watching, I was like, wow. You know, 96 from there, and the slider. He gets the ball when he gets on the mound, he doesn't let you breathe. He's in that elite level when we talked, and the fact that he accepted what we wanted to do is great because he understands that this is not only 162 games. What we're shooting for, you might have to pitch until November. And he needs to be ready for that."

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