SEATTLE — After striking out 32 in 23 1/3 innings down the stretch last season, White Sox reliever Chris Sale has fanned 13 in his first 11 1/3, a slight drop. Opposing batters are hitting .306 against the rookie left-hander, though, compared to .185 last season.
Sale was throwing in the upper 90s last season but he’s consistently been closer to the 94-mph range this year. He says he’s not concerned and speculates it may improve when the weather warms up during the summer months.
“Yeah, velocity is probably the last thing I’m worried about right now,” the rail-thin 6-6, 180-pounder said Sunday. “Getting outs is at the top of my to-do list. It will get there. I’m not too worried about where I’m at with velocity. I feel good, my body feels good, my arm feels good.”
Sale and pitching coach Don Cooper looked at 2010 video and identified some minor differences. Sale hopes the adjustments improve his command, which has been a bigger issue than velocity.
“My main focus is not about lighting up the radar gun,” he said. “Everybody in this league can hit 98. That’s no secret. It’s a matter of where the pitch is, not how hard it is.”
“I’m just trying to get back into a rhythm and figure out what’s the reason behind what’s going on.”
Sale hasn’t pitched since Monday. He has a 2-0 record with a 7.15 ERA.