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Chris Sale: 'We did what we had to do to get ready'

Rob Bradford
October 04, 2018 - 2:32 pm
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Chris Sale was all business Thursday.

The Red Sox ace took to the podium at Fenway Park prior to his team's workout, with the assembled media trying to glean exactly what Sale has been doing in preparation of his Friday start against the Yankees. Details were hard to come by, but intensity certainly wasn't, as was evident by one particular exchange.

Question: Chris, can you talk about your success against the Yankees this year?

Answer: No.

As for particulars regarding Sale's recent throwing sessions, there wasn't a whole lot of specifics. When asked to elaborate on Pedro Martinez's comment that the "medicine" was going to be helping -- insinuating a cortisone shot -- the lefty said, "We have had enough time and luckily, I've said it a lot even in post-game interviews, the way my team has played, our everyday players, our lineup and the other guys on my staff and the bullpen have allowed me to be able to get back to where I need to be, and take that time off when I needed it. Obviously, it's something I didn't like, I didn't want to go through, but it's life, it happens. Different things happen on a different day and you have to handle it. And luckily for myself, we were in a position to be able to handle it in the way we wanted to. And with the best possible medical staff and training staff on the planet. And, yeah, we did what we had to do to get ready and here we are."

The closest Sale came to describing what he had been working on since his last start eight days before was this: "The extended period of time allowed me to get a little more work in, like I said. I was able to get off the mound a couple of times and work on that, work on using my legs, driving a little bit more. Getting a little more rotational with my lower half and staying stronger with my top half. And just trying to sharpen the tools. Work on both sides of the plate, up and down, mixing speeds, and staying strong."

Here is the entire Sale press conference:

Q. Chris, it's a new year, different lineup. You're pitching at home. Is there anything you can take away from your very first postseason start last year that is at all applicable to your start tomorrow night?
CHRIS SALE: Absolutely. I think any time you get in a position like this you know it's different. It's the same game, strike 1, out 1, 27 outs. But pitching in the postseason I think everyone knows is a little bit different. Last year obviously I got my feet wet. Didn't do too well. But sometimes you learn from the bad more than the good. And that's what I'm using.

Q. Chris, could you just get into a little bit of what you've gone through since your last start and where you are physically and also mechanically in getting ready for Game 1?
CHRIS SALE: We obviously had an extended period of time, so I was able to get a little more work in. Get my feet back under underneath me and get ready for this one.

Q. Chris, can you talk about your success against the Yankees this year?
CHRIS SALE: No.

Q. Chris, after your last start you talked about some mechanical things specifically with your extension. How have you been able to address that in the time since?
CHRIS SALE: Well, like I said, the extended period of time allowed me to get a little more work in, like I said. I was able to get off the mound a couple of times and work on that, work on using my legs, driving a little bit more. Getting a little more rotational with my lower half and staying stronger with my top half. And just trying to sharpen the tools. Work on both sides of the plate up and down, mixing speeds, and staying strong.

Q. Do you feel like what you did, I don't know if solved the problem is the way to say it, but do you feel like you accomplished things since the last time you started?
CHRIS SALE: Absolutely. Any time you can get off the mound and get some feedback from my guys and pitching coaches and catchers and just the way I feel in general is good.

Q. Chris, can you talk about the last couple of days the progression, how the rain impacted that Tuesday and then the decision to go back out on the mound the next day. Can you take us through those couple of days?
CHRIS SALE: Yeah, I just want to get on the actual mound outside. It was raining all day Tuesday, not kind of the best day for baseball activity on the field. So we had to do what we had to do to get our work in there. Wednesday I just felt like, hey, I want to get off the mound outside, and like I said get some more work in. We had enough time to build up to this. And I had plenty of rest. So you still have to stay sharp.

Q. Chris, a lot was made about your velocity in the last start being a season-low. Do you attribute that to some of the mechanical issues? Is it at all related to building up arm strength after the time you missed? And can you be effective at 92, 93, wherever you might be on Friday?
CHRIS SALE: Yeah, if I take the mound I expect to win. I don't care what I have on a given day, I should be able to find a way with whatever I have. In terms of what that was, it's a game, what are you going to do? Sometimes you go out there and you have your best, sometimes you don't. This is sport. This is baseball. You have to find a way with whatever you have on any given day, and roll with it. So I take the ball tomorrow and I expect to win.

Q. Chris, everything you've done since you've been coming back over the last several months has been geared towards this. How much are you looking forward to this opportunity that you get the ball in Game 1 for your team at home?
CHRIS SALE: This is everything we show up for. We don't play the game for anything else. Personal stats, wins in the regular season are obviously what get us here. And winning games and winning the division and having the record and all that. We appreciate it, don't get me wrong. We worked hard for that. We grinded for that, and we earned it. But now is the crunch time. You guys know. We know what's ahead of us. And we know what we have to do. So from when we show up in Spring Training, this is the only goal. This is it. This is what we're here to do. We don't show up to Spring Training wanting to know when our last game is. We want to make that ourselves. This is everything we've worked for. This is the late nights, the early mornings, the travel, all -- everything that we've collectively, coaching staff, medical staff, players, front office have put ourselves through this entire year, it's now, and we got to go.

Q. Can you talk about Mookie and the year he's had, and then talk about the outfield defense of Bradley.
CHRIS SALE: Yeah, I think that's been our strongest suit this year is our offense. And I think Mookie is at the top. I don't think -- you look around the league and right out of the gate you have to have your stuff together facing our lineup. He's definitely been our spark plug. When you're facing Mookie Betts the first batter of the game, that's a tough role. And it really doesn't get any easier after that. So he's put himself in a different category, I think, and people had some things to say last year, and I think that's done with now. He's exactly who we thought he was going to be. He's been the same guy through it all, since I've been here. And it doesn't happen by accident, neither. He puts in the work and shows up every day ready to go. I think there's a lot of other factors that go into it, but hard work pays off, and we saw it.

Q. And Jackie's defense?
CHRIS SALE: Jackie's defense, the last year I think he should have won the Gold Glove. This year if he doesn't, there's a flaw in the system. He's as good as it gets. Us as pitchers we say it all the time, it feels like we're playing with four outfielders. The range, the ability that he can put his head down and pick up the ball, his awareness of the field is second to none. I feel like he knows exactly where he is at all times, putting his head down, running at full speed. That's tough to do, especially here in this park. This is a tough outfield to play in, both in center, left and right field. With the wall, the angles and the big right field. So us as pitchers we appreciate that, and it doesn't go unnoticed.

Q. Chris, from a Fox physical standpoint how prepared would you be to pitching on short rest or out of the bullpen?
CHRIS SALE: I'm ready to go. I'm at the point where you hand me the ball, I go pitch and I stop pitching when you take it out of my hand. That's been my philosophy for the last couple of years, anyways. Just put my head down and keep running.

Q. Chris, has it been just unsettling at all not having your normal routine the last few weeks of the season, not to be at the pitch counts you're accustomed to, going to this point right now?
CHRIS SALE: No. Like I said, it's still baseball. I've prepared myself and I have had a lot of help getting there. I'm not worried about this or that. I know I've got somewhere around 100 pitches to cover, and it's going to be everything I've got in all those pitches.

Q. Chris, you mentioned your last start sticking with you, your last start sticking with you a little bit, you tried to learn from it. Did it stick with you a little bit more and is that something you're looking forward to erasing the memory of?
CHRIS SALE: I'm not trying to erase anything. It happened. I'm not going to run away from it. I don't think that's the right thing to do. Obviously, I look back and I realize the mistakes I made, and like I said, try to learn from it. I'm not going to hide from it. It is what it is. You can Google it now, tomorrow and 100 years and it's going to be there. I own it. I accept it. And like I said, I'm going to be better. I'm going to go do everything I can to be better. That's all I can do. It's not going to help me this year, not next year and definitely not tomorrow. So the work, the preparation and everything that's gone into it is what's going to get me through.

Q. Did you watch the game last night, the Yankee game?
CHRIS SALE: We did, yeah. Yes.

Q. What was your reaction when you knew that was the team you were facing and the lineup you were facing?
CHRIS SALE: It's fun. I mean, what else do you want? You got the Yankees and the Red Sox in the playoffs playing against each other. One of the biggest rivalries in sports ever. It's what we signed up for.

Q. What do you remember from like '03 and '04 watching the classic series before you were in the Majors, Red Sox-Yankees kind of those classics?
CHRIS SALE: I mean, obviously looking back, it's a lot of passion, a lot of heated rivalries. You know, that's part of the build-up with this. I know you guys like to make a big deal of it and everything because of what's happened in the past, obviously earlier this year and all that you got two big-time teams that played really good baseball throughout the regular season about to go head to head the most important time of the year. If you can't get excited for that, I think you're doing the wrong thing.

Q. Chris, Pedro Martinez last night made a reference to having enough time for medicine to kick in. When you first went on the DL you thought it would be minor can you talk about the process you've been through with the shoulder? Has it responded the way you wanted to? Did you need medicine?
CHRIS SALE: We have had enough time and luckily, I've said it a lot even in post-game interviews, the way my team has played, our everyday players, our lineup and the other guys on my staff and the bullpen have allowed me to be able to get back to where I need to be, and take that time off when I needed it. Obviously, it's something I didn't like, I didn't want to go through, but it's life, it happens. Different things happen on a different day and you have to handle it. And luckily for myself, we were in a position to be able to handle it in the way we wanted to. And with the best possible medical staff and training staff on the planet. And, yeah, we did what we had to do to get ready and here we are.

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