Chris Sale fires back at his critics

Chris Sale fires back at his critics
February 14, 2013, 4:15 pm
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GLENDALE, Ariz -- Chris Sale has heard it all before.  

“He’s not durable enough. He’s too skinny. His delivery...”

Those aren’t my words. They’re his. He can read them back to you by heart.

And now after Sale threw 192 innings last season -- 121 more than the year before -- there are skeptics out there who look at his age, frame and violent pitching motion and predict that he’s at risk to suffer either an injury or severe regression in 2013.

What does Chris think about the cynics?

“I know there are people out there saying what they want to say, but I have my say too, and I’m going to go through with my program and see if I can’t hush some of those people up,” Sale said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.

In his first year as a starter, Sale went 17-8 with 3.05 ERA. He made his first All-Star team and finished sixth in voting for the Cy Young Award.  

The doubters say he won’t repeat that this season. Sale says, watch me.

“You kind of have to have those people around you to kind of motivate you. Your fans are in your corner cheering you on, but there are people that tell you you can’t do something, that’s what drives me,” Sale said. “If somebody tells me I can’t climb that mountain, I’m going to go climb that mountain, and do everything I can to get on top of it.”

Sale admits that he did experience a dead arm period last season. The one start he remembers specifically was against the Texas Rangers in July when his velocity topped out at 91 miles per hour.

“To be honest, I felt great. I woke up in the morning, the arm felt good. It just felt like I was kind of throwing under water a little bit. There wasn’t any pain. I was rearing back and firing it in there, but it wasn’t coming out like it was before.”

Once upon a time, a younger pitcher from another Central Division team experienced the same problem. His name is Justin Verlander. And believe it or not, the day that Sale and Verlander were set to face each other last September before getting rained out, Verlander went to Sale and offered him advice.

“When we got rained out in Chicago, that was when I kind of had a dead arm. I had skipped a couple starts. He actually helped me out a lot,” Sale said. “He pulled me aside and was like, ‘This stuff is normal. I went through it when I was younger. Just fight through it. Once the off-season comes, relax and you’ll feel fine next year.’ He went out of his way to help me out and I greatly appreciated that.”

Sale might be the ace of the White Sox, but ask him who’s the signature type of ace in baseball, and he points to Verlander.

“This is going to sound terrible because he’s our rival, but he’s the definition of an ace,” Sale explained. “I watch him. There’s no doubt about it, and I watch how he prepares in bullpens. I’ve talked with him a little bit. That’s the ultimate goal to be at that level.”

The slender Sale looks the same as last year, but when he arrived in Glendale, he weighed in at 177 pounds. That's nine more pounds than last year.

Where did the extra weight go?

“I’m telling people it’s in my feet,” he joked.

After limiting Sale’s innings in 2012, the White Sox say it’s all systems go for Chris in 2013.

“It does nothing but make me feel more confident about myself as a pitcher. It has to happen sometime. The sooner the better,” Sale said. “I know what it takes to get through an entire season. I’m ready for the challenge.”