White Sox

Chris Sale likes 'formula' he and White Sox have developed

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Chris Sale likes 'formula' he and White Sox have developed

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.”

[MORE: No Cactus League games for White Sox' Chris Sale until March 19]

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.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, White Sox fans!]

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.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”