"Chris Sale is healthy. Chris Sale is fine. Chris Sale is going to be pitching."
That's the point Don Cooper hammered home on an appearance on the Mully and Hanley Show on WSCR-670 AM (full audio here) when the hosts persisted in asking him about Sale's condition. Cooper admitted Sale's elbow has been sore, but then argued the Sox wouldn't have pitched him in a game had he been hurt.
The timing of the MRI was a good question -- as in, why wasn't it done immediately after Sale experienced sorenesstendernesstightness -- to which Cooper said he didn't need one right away. His MRI on Thursday is described as "routine," as in, pitchers and players get these all the time. Bill Melton added credence to the idea of a "routine MRI" on last night's edition of White Sox Postgame Live, saying players get MRIs for "pretty much anything" at this point.
Another interesting note from Cooper was that the White Sox never had a discussion about putting Sale on the disabled list, even though he went a week without pitching between his last start and first relief appearance. It had been suggested and rumored by some that the Sox should'vewere thinking about shelving Sale for 15 days to see if his arm heals, but per Cooper, that wasn't an option.
Even though Cooper insists Sale is perfectly fine, it's going to be a nervous couple of hours waiting for a report on the results of Sale's MRI. The first step is making sure Sale's healthy, the second is deciding where he should wind up. Cooper didn't sound married to the idea of Sale staying in the bullpen, only saying that "as of this minute" Sale was a reliever.
Lastly, Cooper confirmed that Eric Stults will start Saturday against Kansas City (that slot had previously been TBA). While Stults had decent results against Cleveland (6 IP, 2 ER), he walked as many batters as he struck out (4) and owns a 4.86 ERA in 163 career innings.
Barring a major turnaround, the Sox may have to scramble to find a suitable fifth starter if Sale ultimately does stay in the bullpen. If the Sox convene and decide to move him back to the rotation, though, that's a big problem solved.
27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.
The White Sox farm system is baseball's best, according to one of the people making those rankings.
In the wake of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Atlanta Braves for breaking rules regarding the signing of international players — which included the removal of 12 illegally signed prospects from the Braves' organization — MLB.com's Jim Callis tweeted out his updated top 10, and the White Sox are back in first place.
Now obviously there are circumstances that weakened the Braves' system, allowing the White Sox to look stronger by comparison. But this is still an impressive thing considering that three of the White Sox highest-rated prospects from the past year are now full-time big leaguers.
Yoan Moncada used to be baseball's No. 1 prospect, and pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez weren't too far behind. That trio helped bolster the highly ranked White Sox system. Without them, despite plenty of other highly touted prospects, common sense would say that the White Sox would slide down the rankings.
But the White Sox still being capable of having baseball's top-ranked system is a testament to the organizational depth Rick Hahn has built in such a short period of time.
While prospect rankings are sure to be refreshed throughout the offseason, here's how MLB Pipeline's rankings look right now in regards to the White Sox:
4. Eloy Jimenez
9. Michael Kopech
22. Luis Robert
39. Blake Rutherford
57. Dylan Cease
90. Alec Hansen