Chicago White Sox

Sale drawing comparisons to 'Big Unit'

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Sale drawing comparisons to 'Big Unit'

KANSAS CITY -- Chris Sale is barely two years removed from when he was made a first-round draft pick in baseballs 2010 amateur draft.

Hes one of only four first-round selections from the June 2010 draft to have already reached the big leagues.

Despite his tender age, Sale, 23, has not only made the transition from the bullpen to frontline starting pitcher, the White Sox left-hander was a legitimate candidate to start Tuesdays All-Star Game for the American League. Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander will instead start Tuesdays game, AL manager Ron Washington announced at Mondays All-Star Game press conference.

The announcement didnt slow the praise heaped upon Sale by his AL teammates, several of whom compared him with Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson.

Well, almost.

Hes pretty unique, Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. Hes not as tall and he doesnt really have the haircut that Randy had, but he kind of slings it the same way and has pretty good stuff.

After he made 79 relief appearances in parts of two seasons, Sale, who debuted on Aug. 6, 2010, has made a pretty good transition into the White Sox starting rotation.

Sales only blip this season was a scare in early May, which resulted in a precautionary MRI on his left elbow and a brief return to the bullpen.

But Sale has been otherwise brilliant in his first season as a starter. He is 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA in 16 games (15 starts).

This is the stuff you dont ever think about, Sale said. You want to go out there and help your team win. This is stuff you dont ever see yourself doing. Im just fortunate to be sitting here and Im thankful for that opportunity I got. I guess (the rapid rise) does get kind of crazy, but I try not to look too far into it.

Hitters do their best not to think about Sales stuff.

With a fastball that averages 93 mph and a slider capable of fooling hitters on both sides of the plate, not to mention his wiry 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame, which adds deception to his delivery, Sale is adequately armed to face major league hitters.

Ive had many left-handers tell me he has the best left-hand slider period, first baseman Paul Konerko said. And hell buckle right-handers with sliders, which is hard to even picture how that happens. You see guys right-handed and the ball comes out of his hand high and away, they actually freeze when it comes down. You dont see too many guys in the game do that. You see Verlander do it with his curveball to lefties. Its pretty amazing.

Sales statistics tell an equally remarkable tale.

His .197 batting average against ranks fourth among major league pitchers while his 2.19 ERA and 0.95 WHIP rank third. Sale also has yielded the fourth fewest homers in the majors (five).

Konerko thinks the jaw-dropping aspect to the tale isnt Sales ascent, though he agrees that aspect is impressive, but rather how easily the left-hander has handled the transition from the bullpen to the rotation.

He was throwing 96-to-100 mph last year, Konerko said. I know he can still do that. But you cant do that as a starter. Just to try to change the way he was throwing the ball for the whole year last year and then to come out this year and say Now Im going to have to pitch a little more. Im going to have more baserunners. Im going to face more right-handers because Im not going to always get the lefty matchups I got out of the pen -- all that stuff. To process that at his age and his experience and deal with it is pretty amazing.

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer is also impressed by Sale and has drawn the comparison between him and Johnson, who stood 6-feet-10-inches and won 303 games.

Mauer also has already seen enough of Sale to know hed prefer to see less of him.

Its tough, Mauer said. I was able to face Randy a couple of times before he retired. (Sale) has a great angle coming in and hes got great movement on his pitches.

You could definitely tell. Hes got great stuff. A great arm. I kind of wish he was in a different division.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk rips Lackey, Swarzak traded, Coop misses Q

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk rips Lackey, Swarzak traded, Coop misses Q

After a wild day at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, Chuck Garfien and Dan Hayes discuss John Lackey hitting four White Sox batters and also play Hawk Harrelson's epic on-air rant directed at the Cubs pitcher.

"Jeff the Sox Fan" appears on the podcast and suggests what he thinks Jose Abreu should have done to Lackey when he was hit for a second time.

While they taped the podcast, Anthony Swarzak was traded to the Brewers. What kind of return did the White Sox get? Garfien also interviews White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper about losing Quintana to the Cubs, why he can't watch Quintana and Chris Sale pitch in different uniform, when some minor leaguers like Reynaldo Lopez will be called up and more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

How White Sox aggressive deadline strategy paid off in Anthony Swarzak trade

How White Sox aggressive deadline strategy paid off in Anthony Swarzak trade

The White Sox jumped out ahead of a crowded reliever market once again and traded Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.

The White Sox acquired 25-year-old outfielder Ryan Cordell from the Brewers in exchange for the veteran reliever, a baseball source confirmed. The No. 17 prospect in the Brewers farm system, Cordell was hitting .284/.349/.506 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 292 plate appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season.

A nonroster invitee to big league camp this spring, Swarzak was 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA, one save and 52 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings this season. He’s the third reliever the White Sox have traded since the second half began as they also dealt David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees with Todd Frazier on July 18.

TA free agent after the season, Swarzak has fared extremely well in high-leverage situations, stranding 26 of the 35 runners he had inherited. He pitched in two high-leverage spots in the team’s previous two games, earning his first career save Monday. Swarzak, whose 9.68 strikeouts per nine is a career high, also earned a hold on Sunday in Kansas City.

“I’ve been waiting for that opportunity for a long time,” Swarzak said of Monday’s save. “It’s nice that I went in there and got it done. You think about that moment for years and then it finally happens. You just are trying to take a step back and reflect on what just happened, and I’ll be able to come in tomorrow and be ready to go.”

Two American League scouts said Monday that Swarzak still had good trade value even though he’s viewed as a rental. While he wouldn’t likely net the White Sox a top-150 prospect, they could wrangle a “good” minor-leaguer in a deal. One element that could have potentially derailed the White Sox was an abundance of strong relief options in the market, perhaps as many as 20 pitchers.

[MORE: Carlos Rodon frustrated again after a weird start

After the White Sox traded Robertson and Kahnle, general manager Rick Hahn indicated they moved the pair early in anticipation of a competitive marketplace when they acquired Blake Rutherford and others from the New York Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles are a team that could have wreaked havoc on the relief market if they decide to sell -- something one AL source said they’ve gone back and forth on every day -- because they could flood it with Zach Britton and others.

The move is the third made by the White Sox in a span of two weeks, including the trade of Jose Quintana to the Cubs on July 13. The White Sox still have several veterans on the roster who could draw trade interest, including starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez.

“We are still open for business,” Hahn said last week.

Today’s Knuckleball’s Jon Heyman first reported the deal that sent Swarzak to the Brewers. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal initially reported the teams’ were discussing a trade for Swarzak.