Examining the facts regarding Chris Sale's role

758756.png

Examining the facts regarding Chris Sale's role

There isn't much clarity regarding Chris Sale's health and role with the White Sox as of right now. His maybe-precautionary-or-routine MRI tomorrow in Chicago should clear some things up, as will the meeting of the team brass after the results are in. Hopefully, we'll have an answer about what Sale's role will be in 2012 come Friday.

But let's deal with what we do know right now: Sale struggled in his return to the bullpen Tuesday night. His stat line doesn't look terrible: 1 inning, 1 run (unearned), 1 strikeout, 1 walk, 1 hit. But both runners Sale inherited scored, along with the game-tying run on a single by Carlos Santana. He entered with a 3-0 lead and left with the game tied.

Sale had no feel for his slider, throwing it 11 times for just three strikes. As a result, his fastball became pretty hittable, clocking in with an average velocity of 94 mph and being thrown for a strike on 11 of 15 offerings.

To be fair, Sale was victimized by a misplay of a slow grounder by Alexei Ramirez, and the first run scored on a groundout to Paul Konerko because of it. But by the time Santana stepped up to hit with the bases loaded, it was clear Sale had lost his slider, and Santana ripped the fourth straight fastball he saw up the middle for a game-tying single.

Sale's velocity was down a tick from his 2011 average (95.3 miles per hour -- he was at 94.4 mph Tuesday), although that shouldn't be taken as a definite sign he's hurt. That's still up about two miles per hour from his season average, and we'd probably need a few more innings of slightly decreased velocity to make a statement in that regard.

We also know Sale would rather start than pitch in relief -- Jim Margalus of South Side Sox picked up on that looking at yesterday's broadcast and Mark Gonzales reported Sale was "visibly upset" with the move to the bullpen -- so there's that. But Robin Ventura seems set on leaving Sale as the closer. Don Cooper may or may not disagree. And we don't know what Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams & Co. think yet.

We also can reasonably hypothesize that Addison Reed would make a fine closer, and the Sox don't need Sale in that role. Reed's nailed down two saves since Sale was moved from the rotation, and it's not like he doesn't have experience finishing off games -- he closed for San Diego State when Stephen Strasburg was in the Aztec rotation and absolutely has the pedigree to pitch in the ninth.

So hopefully, we'll have closure, or at least an answer, as to Sale's future on Friday. Until then, we'll be left guessing.

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

Four of the team's top-10 prospects and a former All-Star are among the 19 nonroster invitees to White Sox big league camp this spring.

The team announced Monday that prospects Michael Kopech, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Spencer Adams have all been invited to camp next month. Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 for the San Diego Padres, Cody Asche, Cory Luebke and Geovany Soto are among the eight minor league free agents who also received an invitation. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 14 while the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.

Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December while Collins and Burdi were both selected in the 2016 amateur draft. Adams was drafted in 2014.

Signed earlier this month, Soto is expected to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. Soto, who played for the White Sox in 2015, finished last season with four home runs and an .809 OPS in 86 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels.

Cabrera, who produced 4.6 Wins Above Replacement between 2012-13, hasn't played in the majors since he appeared in 29 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. Luebke, who has twice had reconstructive elbow surgery, finished with a 9.35 ERA in nine games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Asche blasted 31 homers with a .240/.298/.385 slash line in 1,287 plate appearances since 2013 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Other minor league free agents include: left-handed pitcher David Holmberg, right-handers Blake Smith and Anthony Swarzak, and catcher Roberto Pena.

White Sox minor leaguer pitchers Aaron Bummer, Brian Clark, Jace Fry and Matt Purke, infielders Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes, and outfielder Courtney Hawkins also have been invited to camp.

Fast Break Morning Update: Tim Raines elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Fast Break Morning Update: Tim Raines elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Former White Sox OF Tim Raines elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame

Between Cubs' victory lap and Hall of Fame vote, Sammy Sosa barely staying in the picture

Bulls' continued inconsistencies 'an issue of focus'

Report: Bears set to hire Curtis Modkins as running backs coach

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

Tim Raines shares thank you message after being elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Bulls Talk Podcast: What went wrong for the Bulls against the Mavericks?

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

Big Ten Talk Podcast: Picking contenders and pretenders in the Big Ten title race

Jerry Reinsdorf, Frank Thomas congratulate Tim Raines on Baseball Hall of Fame election