clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chris Sale working on move to first

Chris Sale works on his pickoff move to first base. Relief pitcher Nate Jones is the acting first baseman.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chris Sale is the first to admit his move to first needs work.

“My move is terrible over there,’’ Sale said Saturday morning after throwing the equivalent of three-plus innings against live hitters on the backfields at Camelback Ranch. “That’s the main reason why we are working on it — to get a little bit better. Something a little bit more natural looking than picking up, lifting up and going over.’’

Pitching coach Don Cooper admits the pickoff move by lefty pitchers is not his forte. But AA Birmingham pitching coach J.R. Perdew has some expertise, and he was with Sale and Cooper after the Sox prized left-hander got up and down four times to pitch against Sox hitters. Lefty Carlos Rodon also received instructional tips on his move.

“Top secret stuff,’’ Sale said.

Sale, who is one of the best at keeping runners off base, knows holding runners is also in the job description.

“A lot of times catchers get flak for not throwing them out. But a lot of times it’s on us getting it there quick and keeping them honest at first,’’ Sale said.

For the purpose of staying fresh, avoiding injury and sidestepping teams he might face during the regular season, the Sox’ four-time All-Star isn’t scheduled to pitch in a Cactus League game till March 19, but he is getting plenty of throwing in. Before Jacob Turner started the Sox’ Cactus League game against the Indians on the big field, Sale was on a backfield getting his work in.

“It’s a more controlled environment,’’ he said. “You can pick and choose what you want to do and work on. Stuff like that. It went well.’’

Sale broke Adam Eaton’s bat (Eaton jokingly asked Sale to sign it), and it’s caveats like that which will have to do for quenching competitive juices. Sale admits he wouldn’t mind pitching in games now.

“Yeah, especially hearing Johnny [Danks] talking about getting out there yesterday [in the Cactus League opener],’’ Sale said. “It’s tough. You want to play. But I get where we are at. My first X amount of starts, I think three or four were against teams we were playing right out of the gate or in division early on. They didn’t want the whole getting looks thing. [But] you want to play in games. That’s why we are down here.’’

Cooper was in a jovial mood, and perhaps because Sale’s, Rodon’s and right-hander Erik Johnson’s side sessions all went “really good.”

“What a great morning,’’ Cooper said.

“Sale left here today feeling very good,” Cooper said, “because we had focused work on certain stuff. It might be arm-side two-seamers, it might be fastballs in on a righty, it could be different things, different days.’’

The 6-6 stringbean also revealed he’s 10 pounds heavier than he was last spring. His weight is up to 190.

“Moving up on my venture to 200, which is still skinny for me,” said Sale, who turns 27 this month. “Every year trying to [gain weight].’’