Chris Sale may be taking something off his fastball now and then to keep hitters off balance, but even with a 7-0 record and 1.79 ERA, there will be no letup in the intense White Sox left-hander when he faces the New York Yankees Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
“You’re always pushing to be better and pushing to the next level no matter what level you’re at,’’ Sale said. “It’s safe to say Clayton Kershaw, who is at a level of his own, is still pushing the envelope to be better than he is.’’
Sale, who has made the American League All-Star team and finished in the top six in Cy Young voting in each of his four seasons as a starting pitcher, is still pushing.
“Ask anybody who has done anything — world champions, heavyweight title boxers, Cy Youngs, whoever — everyone is always trying to do better than their last time up or their last year,’’ Sale said. “It might not be anything specifically you work on. … I’m trying to get better as a whole, the whole process that you’re trying to move forward.’’
Staying healthy is a big part of that for Sale, who threw a bullpen in Texas Wednesday but, for the purpose of keeping his arm fresh, usually throws long toss or “pitches” off flat ground. Before Tuesday’s game against the Rangers, he ran long sprints in the outfield under the hot Texas sun.
“More running in between starts this time around, because I enjoy it,’’ he said. “It makes my body feel good. It makes my arm feel a lot better, so that’s probably the only thing I’ve added is a little more distance running.’’
At 27, Sale is in his seventh season, which makes him the longest tenured Sox now that John Danks is gone. He’s wearing it well.
“To go from the young kid to the resident grand poobah is impressive,” Ventura said. “I see him very comfortable with that role.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m going to act any different or get a new chair or new parking spot or something like that,’’ Sale said. “But I definitely feel a sense of responsibility in taking care of guys and being the leader of this team.’’
Return to New York
Second-year closer David Robertson, who pitched his first seven seasons for the Yankees, should know how to find the visitors clubhouse at Yankee Stadium this season. Last year, before he collected his 32nd save in late September in his first outing against his former team, Robertson “didn’t know how to get into the visiting side. It was strange.’’
“The [security] girl tried to open the door and let me in the Yankees clubhouse. I was like, ‘No, no, no, I don’t play here any more.’ ’’
Robertson, 12-for-14 in save opportunities with a 1.23 ERA, is still seething about his outing Monday when he couldn’t locate his curve ball and failed to hold two leads. Both of his blown saves are against the Rangers.
“Brutal,’’ he said.
There’s a good chance he’ll try to get back on track where he has made 182 appearances.
“I had a great time playing there and was fortunate to win a World Series my second year there [in 2009]. But I’ve moved on and my career path changed. I want to win here in Chicago with these guys.’’
Todd Frazier needed five stitches in his lip after diving into the stands in Texas Wednesday, but the third baseman said he would ready to play after Thursday’s off day. He reiterated that on Twitter Thursday.
The San Diego Padres’ waiver claim of Hector Sanchez, designated for assignment Monday, left the Sox thin at catcher behind Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro. Kevan Smith (AAA Charlotte) is on the disabled list. Omar Narvaez, considered a defense-first catcher, has played seven games since being promoted to AAA. The Sox were hoping Sanchez would clear waivers and be sent back to Charlotte.
TV broadcaster Steve Stone is taking the weekend series against the Yankees off and will be replaced by Dan Plesac.
Friday, 6:05 p.m., CSN, 890-AM
Chris Sale (7-0, 1.79) vs. Luis Severino (0-5, 6.12)
Saturday: 12:05, CSN, 890-AM
Jose Quintana (5-1, 1.38) vs. Ivan Nova (1-1, 4.34)
Sunday: 12:05, Ch. 9, 890-AM
Miguel Gonzalez (0-0, 4.91) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.11)