SURPRISE, Ariz. — “I’m a baseball player again,’’ Chris Sale declared.
Well, not quite in the sense of pitching in real games, but the White Sox ace threw another bullpen session Wednesday of about 30 pitches and participated in warmups and throwing with his teammates, another step closer to his goal of returning to the Sox by April 12.
Sale will throw a simulated game Friday, and in gamelike action April 1 and April 6. April 1 is the second to last day of the Cactus League season, but no one was committing to that just yet.
“My preference is to have my foot feel 100 percent where wherever I’m pitching,’’ Sale said.
“It’s nice to have something to look forward to and have a goal to reach.’’
The good news is that Sale feels no pain in his right (landing) foot, which sustained an avulsion fracture along with an ankle sprain Feb. 27.
“It [only] gets sore when I’m running around trying to strengthen and stuff like that,’’ he said. “Just soreness and we can work through the soreness so that’s probably the best sign.’’
Sale said his bullpen session wasn’t limited to just testing the arm. It was normal work, finding his arm slot, getting life on his pitches and hitting spots.“
Manager Robin Ventura said his top gun looks “free and easy” but added that the game plan for his return is subject to a reassessment as he goes along.
Sale said he’s not concerned about a foot issue altering his throwing and adversely affecting his arm.
“If I was landing differently, if I was doing something that changed my mechanics or changed the way I pitched or something like that it would be an issue,’’ he said. “As of right now the way I’m feeling, people are saying I look the same, I feel like I’m pitching the same. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different. Keep chugging along.’’
Chugging beats sitting around. Sale said he didn’t wait all off-season for the season to begin to be sitting around.
“I get over excited sometimes. I want to be out there. I don’t like sitting here doing all this [treatment] crap all day. I’m a baseball player. I didn’t come here to get my foot fixed.’’
Plantar faciitis crept into both of Conor Gillaspie’s feet over the offseason, and they were barking at him early on in camp. The third baseman says the condition has improved with treatment, but it’s probably something he’ll have to deal with all season.
“Playing through it,’’ Gillaspie said Wednesday. “It’s gotten a lot better to where it doesn’t really bother me much any more. At the end of the day I’m a little sore but it’s not too bad. It probably won’t go away all year but it’s manageable.’’
Gillaspie, who was 8-for-32 in 12 games through Tuesday, has mixed feelings about there being eight days left in spring training.
“I’m ready to get this last week in and get lots of at-bats. I need the at-bats,’’ he said. “But it will be good to get out of here, too. Part of you is excited to get out and some of you is not. Probably be 30 degrees.’’
Maybe not. The Sox open in Kansas City on April 6, and the long-range forecast calls for a high of 58 degrees.
The 25th man?
J.B. Shuck, who has the inside track on making the club as a fourth outfielder, was hitting .361 with two doubles. He’s been aggressive on the bases, which he and others with speed have been encouraged to be in camp.
“They brought in [baserunning instructor] Vince [Coleman] to help with that and we’re trying to get a feel for how aggressive we can be,’’ Shuck said. “It’s still a place where you can almost do like trial and error.’’
Shuck led the team in games played with 18.
“I was told there would be some competition for a spot on the bench so I came in in good shape and trying to win a job, and they’ve been true to their word, they’ve given me a lot of opportunity,’’ said Shuck, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians this winter.
It does in my situation but for me it’s getting comfortable in the box and being in right spot to start the season. I’ve been able to get comfortable and get good results so it’s working out for me so far.’’
“It helped me settled down. You really want to make a good impression when you first get up there. I was able to kind of prove that I can hit up there.’’
This and that
Hector Noesi pitched against Reds minor leaguers, throwing 87 pitches (60 for strikes). He allowed three runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Geovany Soto, who hadn’t caught Noesi, was behind the plate.
*Ventura said he’s ready for the season to begin but after saying the Sox were “adequate” defensively before Tuesday’s game, he said “we’re below adequate on defense right now” after they made three errors Tuesday.