Examining the facts regarding Chris Sale's role

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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.

Rick Renteria: White Sox not overly concerned about Todd Frazier's injury

Rick Renteria: White Sox not overly concerned about Todd Frazier's injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- They plan to stay vigilant, but the White Sox say Todd Frazier's left oblique injury isn't severe. 

A day after he said Frazier is day to day with what he described as a left oblique strain, manager Rick Renteria said the third baseman has improved.

"He's actually feeling good today, Renteria said. "Our purpose was to hold him back a little bit. Those side issues, muscular issues, oblique issues, they could be a pain in the rear, but it depends on the severity of those types of injuries. Right now it's just a mild soreness, so we're not concerned about it too much."

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Renteria also said outfielder Charlie Tilson has shown some improvement. The hope is Tilson, who is expected to be sidelined for 10 days with a stress reaction in his right foot, could start limited activities on Friday.

Renteria also suggested Carlos Rodon could participate in his first bullpen session shortly. Rodon only began to play catch last Friday and hasn't pitched off the mound yet in camp.

"He feels good and he'll be out there soon," Renteria said. "He's extending and he feels good. He's holding it back a little bit."

Zack Burdi: Mark Buehrle's perfect game was 'electric moment'

Zack Burdi: Mark Buehrle's perfect game was 'electric moment'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Even though he was only 14, Zack Burdi remembers all the emotions he experienced when he went to Mark Buehrle's perfect game.

The White Sox prospect, who grew up in Downers Grove, Ill., said Thursday afternoon he could recall how it felt to be at then-U.S. Cellular Field on July 23, 2009 when Buehrle set down all 27 Tampa Bay Rays hitters in order. Burdi's friend's father had access to a company suite and as the game wore on the crowd become increasingly invested in the performance.

"I just remember the atmosphere, not really knowing what was going on until the fourth or fifth inning," Burdi said. "(As a kid) you don't really grasp how special the moment is you're in until that fifth, sixth, seventh, where everyone in the stadium can feel how much — there's passion on the field but within the stands there's so much want and energy for it to happen. I think just being there and feeling that electric moment was pretty special."

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The White Sox announced on Thursday they will retire Buerhle's number 56 before a June 24 contest against the Oakland A's at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Along with Paul Konerko, Buehrle was already one of Burdi's favorite players. Burdi — who was taken by the White Sox with the 26th pick in the 2016 amateur draft — was 10 when the White Sox won 11 straight postseason games en route to capturing the first World Series title in Chicago in 88 years. 

But being in person for Buehrle's perfecto only strengthened his love. The highlight of course was when Dwayne Wise — a late defensive replacement — soared through the air in the ninth inning to rob Gabe Kapler of extra bases at the left-center field fence. The moment has forever been memorialized in Chicago as the phrase "The Catch" adorns the top of the fence in the spot where Wise collided with the wall.

"That's probably the most memorable," Burdi said. "That was insane because even to a little kid, you know what the sport is, you know a play like that in that moment is something that's once-in-a-lifetime. It's something I'm sure he'll never forget, something that me and my buddies and fans for sure won't forget."