White Sox

'Vintage' Chris Sale returns, dominates as White Sox top Twins

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'Vintage' Chris Sale returns, dominates as White Sox top Twins

Chris Sale’s 98th and final pitch of Sunday’s game was a 98 mile per hour fastball, one that whizzed past the bat of Trevor Plouffe for strike three.

And with that, the left-hander’s return to the top of the White Sox rotation was complete.

Sale struck out eight in six innings of work to lead the White Sox to a 6-2 win over Minnesota in Sunday’s rubber match in front of 23,057 at U.S. Cellular Field. The 26-year-old allowed one run on five hits with one walk in his first start against a major league club — including in spring training — since last September.

“He looked great,” manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s nothing else to say. It was vintage him.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox won't rule out Jose Abreu playing some third base]

Sale largely relied on his mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and upper-80’s changeup, as his slider wasn’t sharp over the course of the afternoon. Sale only threw 10 sliders and didn’t get a swing and miss on any of them, but it didn’t matter — his changeup generated six swings and misses and his fastball got 14 whiffs, according to BrooksBaseball.net.

Despite having only thrown a handful of bullpen sessions and faced a pair of Single-A squads to get ready for the season after an avulsion fracture in his foot kept him out of spring training games, Sale threw 72 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

“I think it’s somewhat typical of a dominant pitcher in this league,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. I’m sure (Clayton) Kershaw and all those guys have similar numbers when they’re out there, at least on their good outings. You kind of set the tone right out of the gate throwing strikes, very aggressive, he was commanding them early too so that makes it tougher on those guys.”

The White Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on an RBI single from Adam LaRoche and an RBI double from Alexei Ramirez in the first inning, and after Danny Santana doubled in a run in the top of third, LaRoche answered with a solo home run in the bottom half, his second of the season. Sale said getting that early advantage helped him get into a rhythm, which translated into him notching the White Sox first quality start of the season.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get a Chris Sale jersey right here]

As he and Ventura have reiterated over the course of his month-and-a-half recovery, Sale’s injury was confined to his foot and didn’t involve anything to really worry about like an elbow or shoulder. Sale and the White Sox followed a slow, calculated recovery plan — one that created enough down time for the left-hander to binge-watch "Breaking Bad" and increase his arsenal of knock-knock jokes — so when he did take the mound Sunday, he said he felt like his injury never happened.

Sale’s strong start, along with some gutsy relief work by Zach Duke and a two-run insurance home run by Gordon Beckham, gave the White Sox their first series win of the season. After an 0-4 start caused some early restlessness, the White Sox are back to blasting celebratory music in the clubhouse — Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was on the playlist Sunday — and things seem to be returning to normal for the long haul of the regular season.

And normal for Sale means, after a strong start, fielding questions about how good a pitcher he can be. If he can keep this up, the early Cy Young talk surely won’t be far around the corner, even if he isn’t too willing to entertain it.

“I’m just a pitcher,” Sale said. “You guys (the media) have all these questions for me like I can read the future and have all the answers. I’m a baseball player. I want to go out and play baseball and do the best I can. That’s all I’ve ever done and all I’m ever going to do. All the extra stuff is cool and fine, but I’ll stick to being a baseball player.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast on The Three Amigos: Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast on The Three Amigos: Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo

The White Sox three outfield prospects are creating a lot of buzz at spring training.

On this edition of the podcast, Micker Adolfo tells Chuck Garfien about a conversation they all had about one day becoming the starting outfield for the White Sox. Adolfo talks about his longtime friendship with Eloy Jimenez, his impressions of Luis Robert, Luis Basabe and the White Sox future.

But first, it's a conversation with MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez who has great insight on many of the White Sox players: Jimenez, Robert, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu. He tells an amazing story about why Jimenez decided to sign with the Cubs when he was a teenager, how much Abreu is revered in Cuba and much more.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.