GLENDALE, Ariz. — Clayton Kershaw has something Chris Sale wants.
Not that Sale pours his body, heart and mind into the pursuit of a Cy Young Award. But it sure would be nice to have just one. Kershaw, who opposes Sale in a marquee Cactus League matchup Saturday night, has two.
“There isn’t a pitcher in baseball who wouldn’t want to win it,’’ Sale said. “It’s like a hitter saying, ‘I wouldn’t want to win the MVP,’ or a team saying, ‘A championship is kind of overrated,’ ” Sale said Friday.
Ask Sale, who finished sixth in Cy Young voting in his first year as a starter and fifth his second year, what motivates him to pitch at a Cy Young level, and his answer comes instantly.
“Winning, winning,’’ he said. “Even losing motivates. Two years ago when I had more wins I was motivated to keep pitching at that level. Off last year, I’m motivated to never have that kind of season again [99 team losses], to never go through that again. You get motivation from different avenues.
“It’s just competing, that’s all I really got,’’ he said. “I play once every fifth day, so when I get out there, I have to make it count.’’
It never takes much to get Sale fired up. Even though it’s spring training, Sale’s competitive juices will flow with Kershaw opposing him Saturday in a matchup of baseball’s upper-crust young left-handers. The Sox haven’t come close to selling out a Cactus League game, but they’re expected to for this one against the Dodgers.
Sale is 24, and Kershaw turns 26 next week. The Sox lefty has the utmost respect for the Dodgers southpaw.
“An under-2 ERA [1.83], two Cy Youngs and 200 innings like rolling out of bed,’’ Sale said.
NOTES: Jose Abreu is playing with heavily taped ankles and wearing new shot, but manager Robin Ventura downplayed it, saying the soreness has improved over recent days and that it isn’t cause for concern. “He had a couple of days there he took off but he’s doing better,’’ Ventura said. “He’s still running. About four or five days ago it looked like something was wrong. Now he looks better. We just have to get the soreness out.’’
◆ The Sox made three roster moves, optioning infielder Carlos Sanchez, left-hander Frank De Los Santos and right-hander Nestor Molina to Class AAA Charlotte. The Sox have 44 players left in big-league camp: 21 pitchers, four catchers, 13 infielders and six outfielders. Sanchez, the highest-rated prospect of the three sent out, was much better this spring than his first camp a year ago. “When you see him on the field, he does a lot of things that we like and being able to follow him, you really notice kind of how he progresses,’’ Ventura said.
◆ Mike Ditka, in town to see his restaurant in the Vee Quiva Hotal and Casino in Laveen, Ariz., will visit the Sox on Saturday.
◆ Aaron Rowand, 2005 center fielder, stood behind his son as the youngster threw out the first pitch.