GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chris Sale is absolutely on board with the throwing program he and the White Sox have devised for this spring.
Developed in part because of how good Sale physically felt throughout the 2015 season after an injury-shortened spring, the White Sox have decided to limit his exhibition game action again this year. Sale threw his second live batting practice of the spring on Saturday and he’ll work in similar behind-the-scenes fashion for another three weeks. The four-time All-Star isn’t set to make his Cactus League debut until March 19 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“We’ve come up with a formula to give me more practice time and not so much game situations,” Sale said. “But just more of trying to build up and focus on throwing strikes, throwing quality strikes, instead of in games. Sometimes you get out in a game and you get into pitching.
“Last year gave me a pretty good gauge of what we need to do out here.”
Sale is exactly one year removed from breaking a bone in his right foot. The injury left him bored looking at the four walls of the training room and sidelined for three weeks. While he did manage to maintain his arm strength through a rigorous program, Sale was off his feet for several weeks. He was limited to two minor-league games before he made his regular season debut in the team’s sixth game of the season. Sale set a franchise-record with 274 strikeouts last season.
Given all the positives from last season, Sale and the White Sox thought it best to try a similar routine this spring.
“I felt fresh,” Sale said of last season. “I felt really good. Not a whole lot of throwing, though, like I said before. I think that helped down the stretch for me in doing little things throughout the year to maintain and stay on top of what I’m doing with my body.”
White Sox minor leaguer Casey Schroeder was one of four hitters to face Sale during his live session. Though he began with a base hit to left field, the rest of Schroeder’s session was dominated by Sale, including a swing and miss at a nasty slider. Schroeder said he broke a pair of bats during batting practice.
“He gave me some firewood,” Schroeder said. “I’ll be able to build a fire tonight at the hotel.
“It was kind of neat. I told myself I was jumping on the fastball first pitch when he threw it and I got it. Then he made me look kinda silly on the next slider, threw it in the dirt. It was fun
“Definitely an experience.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura made his way down to Field 3 on Saturday morning but it wasn’t to see Sale — “as long as he’s throwing and nothing hurts,” Ventura said. Ventura is more interested in the progress of Mat Latos, who’s coming off two seasons in which he spent time on the disabled list.
Latos is off to a good start, according to Ventura, although he surrendered a home run to Courtney Hawkins that left the two laughing.
“It looks like it’s coming out of his hand good, and nice and easy,” Ventura said. “To have him come in here and you get to see him throw and after he throws how he feels — you want to see him be able to bounce back. That’s the answers we’re looking for right now, him being able to throw and bounce back and feel good, not only arm wise but knee and everything else.”