GLENDALE, Ariz. — In the ongoing search to know what’s best for his body, White Sox left-hander Chris Sale threw less and worked out more this past offseason.
“I’d get extended [throwing] maybe once a week,” Sale said Saturday. “It was more finding a release point, arm slot, getting mechanics down. Not a heavy workload throwing.”
Pitching coach Don Cooper says his top priority for Sale, an American League All-Star in his every season as a starter, is keeping him healthy. Cooper said Friday Sale won’t start a Cactus League game till March 19, and in the meantime will get his work in throwing live batting practice (as he did Saturday), simulated games and sessions on the side with Cooper and bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen.
Sale said he felt fresh after camp last year, when he did not throw a Cactus League game because of a foot injury, and felt good at the end of the season.
“Last year gave me a pretty good gauge of what we need to do out here,” Sale said. “I didn’t get any game action. Mostly just throwing on the side and stuff like that. I think that formula is what we are trying to find, what works best. Not only that, but we are facing teams that we face early on in the season as well.”
Of equal importance is keeping the ace out of harm’s way from potential comebackers to the mound.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but throwing strikes isn’t the main focus [during spring training],” Sale said. “It’s building up arm strength and finding a routine. I think that’s we are going to focus on more is arm strength, throwing arm side fastballs, changeups, backdoor breaking balls. Like I said before, sometimes you get into games and you don’t really do that.”
For core strength, Sale incorporated Pilates one day a week into his workout routine this offseason .
“May not make me the manliest person in the world but I will say this, my body felt great after doing it,” he said. “A lot of core strength, a lot of stretching out. A lot of what I need, is to be loose and limber and stretched out and staying tight in the middle.”
Manager Robin Ventura was more interested in watch newcomer Mat Latos throw live batting practice Saturday than Sale. In Sale, he knows what he’s got.
“I saw a little of him, but as long as he’s throwing and nothing hurts – I know that – he’s fine, just getting his work in,” Ventura said.
NOTES: Sale, who often spoke highly of Tyler Flowers as a receiver, continued to downplay a change to Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro. He threw to Avila Saturday.
“Really just hitting the ground running,” Sale said. “We’re trying to figure each other out, talking situations and same thing with Dioner. We’re figuring out what we like, do you care if I set up late, or down on a knee, what’s it like when you’re doing this or where do you prefer the glove to be. All normal stuff, but it’s been great so far.
“Honestly people are making a lot bigger deal than it really is. We’re all professionals, major league baseball players. If we had signed a 14-year old to go back there it might be a bigger issue. We’ve all been there. We’ll make a pretty seamless transition to these guys because of who they are, what they’ve done and what they bring to the table.”
Sale said he doesn’t need to have a personal catcher.