Sale on pitching, food & 'the year of my life'

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Sale on pitching, food & 'the year of my life'

Monday, March 7, 2011
3:07 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

On a recent spring training morning in Glendale, Chris Sale, the White Sox beanpole reliever arrived at Camelback Ranch with some exciting news to share with head trainer, Allen Thomas.

I said, A.T., youd be so proud of me, Sale recalls. I went home, had some chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and I cleared the plate! Then I had two bowls of cereal, a pint of ice cream, a couple bottles of water, and went to bed. He was like, That a boy!

While this "extreme" eating event didnt make it onto the front page of any newspaper, it was a monumental achievement for a skinny, scrawny left-hander, who stands 6-foot-5, weighs 170 pounds, and can sometimes be mistaken for a long piece of rope or a fishing line.

Its gotten to the point where Im getting excited about my eating habits, Sale says.

But lets be serious. He could probably use a whole lot more junk food than that.

I think Ive heard that from someone before, he says with a laugh.

From who? I ask.

Everyone.

Whatever Sale is doing, both on and off the field, the best advice is this: keep doing it. After getting drafted in the first round by the White Sox last June, Sale blasted through the minor leagues like a screaming torpedo, flying past Winston-Salem-A and Charlotte-AAA, before landing safely in the big leagues in August. With a triple-digit fastball and back-breaking change-up, its a place he clearly belongs.

But the speed in which it all happened, professionally and personally, was quite overwhelming.

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2010 was the year of my life, he says. I got drafted, made my major league debut, got engaged, had a son. It was just a crazy year.

Especially when you consider that the Sox fireballer didnt actually become one until he made it to the big leagues.

Aug. 21 in Kansas City to be exact.

I had never thrown a pitch over 96 miles per hour before. Ever, Sale explains. I hit 97 in Triple-A, but it didnt count because it was a fastball and it hit the ground before it even hit the plate. And in my first few (major league) outings, I was 92, 93, and then something just happened. I dont know what it was.

Entering the game in the 9th inning that day, Sale pitched 1.2 innings of hitless baseball, but took the loss (his first and only last season), after a walk he gave to Wilson Betemit produced the game-winning run after Bobby Jenks surrendered a base hit to Yuniesky Betancourt in the 11th.

Its also the only run Sale gave up on the road in 10.2 innings.

After the game, Sale went to his locker and noticed that his phone was blowing up.

I got about 20 text messages from friends saying, Hey, we just saw you throw 101 miles an hour. Whats this all about? And I was like, Hold on...what??

Basically overnight, the Sox flimsy featherweight turned into a dangerous flamethrower who could test the laws of baseball physics every time he came out of the bullpen.

So what happened? What was it? Adrenaline??

It had to have been, he says. That was a tight situation I was coming into. I try to use that adrenaline, the rush of being in a pressure situation and really using it towards pitching effectively; throwing harder, being more focused. I mean, there are some nights I can't go to sleep until 3 o'clock in the morning.

Sale looks up.

Im like, when am I going to fade out? I just stare at the ceiling.

When Sale first arrived in the majors, White Sox fans werent sure what they were seeing.

My debut was kind of rough. That was when the pressure got to me, Sale remembers.

It was Aug. 6 in Baltimore.

I was in my own head. I was out there thinking, Don't give up a home run and don't walk a guy. Well, I walked the first guy and gave up an 0-2 hit to the next guy and my night was done. After that the guys were like, Hey listen it's out of the way. We don't think any different of you. When you get out there, just start breathing.
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I tell Chris that it did look like he was having trouble breathing on the mound that night.

You kidding me? I ran from the bullpen to the mound and I was out of breath! I got done pitching and was like, I only threw like seven pitches, but I felt like I was out there for an hour and a half!

Besides realizing his need for an oxygen tank, Sale says he learned something else that night.

The game speeds up on you, so just slow it down. Throw strikes. You don' t need to go out there and over-pitch. That's what I was trying to do. I was trying to be too good, trying to throw the nastiest pitch in the world when the pitch that Im throwing is going to get the job done anyways.

After that, Sale was almost impossible to hit. He finished his rookie season going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, striking out 32 in 23.1 innings. Hes now in camp competing for the closer's job with Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos. If he doesnt get it, no worries. Youre talking about a kid who a year ago at this time was living in a dorm room at Florida Gulf Coast University.

To me, pitching is pitching. I love to play baseball. Thats all I'm here to do. Whether that's starting, middle relief, late relief, closer, I just want to pitch.

And gain weight.

Sale says his waist size is around 28. Yep, 28...same as his Dads when he got married once upon a time. The White Sox dont have any pants with a waist that small, so Chris is fitting snuggly into a size 34, thanks to a very strong belt.

As you can see my belt is actually on the last notch here, Sale points out. I'm not skinny enough where I have to create my own hole, so it's on the last one. Hopefully by the end of the season I can get it to this second notch.

That would be progress.

So Chris will keep on pitching, while doing a whole bunch of eating; steak, burgers, candy bars, milk shakes. You name it. And while hes shoveling in all the food, someone pass the Alka-Seltzer. Chris doesnt need it. Judging by last season, the rest of the American League most certainly will.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tommy Kahnle has been one of the White Sox brightest bright spots, but fell victim to some tough luck that could ding on his under-the-radar All-Star bid.

Kahnle allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the White Sox 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics Sunday in front of 28,089 at Guaranteed Rate Field, marking only the sixth time in 31 games the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a run in 2017.

In the eighth inning, Kahnle allowed a broken bat single to Franklin Barreto, then Ryon Healy reached on a Todd Frazier error. Khris Davis tied the game with a single to left, knocking Kahnle out of the game, and Oakland took the lead when Yonder Alonso blooped a single off David Robertson that plopped into left field out of the reach of Melky Cabrera. Consider the hit probabilities, according to Statcast, of those three hits and the error:

Barreto: 78 percent
Healy: 5 percent
Davis: 62 percent
Alonso: 2 percent

That Kahnle coughed up the lead was surprising given his stealthy success leading a strong back end of the White Sox bullpen this year. The White Sox, prior to Sunday's defeat, were 28-0 when leading after seven innings. 

"Our bullpen's doing a great (job), it really is," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think you can't take away from what they've been doing for us all year long. We've been going to them a lot."

On that improbable Alonso bloop single, Cabrera was shifted more toward center field. 

"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us. These guys are all a little fatigued, they're a little tired right now. They're giving you what they've got right now."

Entering Sunday’s game, Kahnle’s 1.2 WAR was sixth-best American League relievers, behind Boston’s Craig Kimbrel (2.2), Houston’s Chris Devenski (1.6), Cleveland’s Andrew Miller (1.6), Los Angeles’ Blake Parker (1.4) and Toronto’s Roberto Osuna (1.3). His 44.8 strikeout percentage is among the five best in baseball along with Kimbrel, New York’s Dellin Betances, Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen and Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel.

Kahnle has been undoubtedly spectacular this year even with Sunday’s hiccup, though with Garcia seeming likely to be on the American League All-Star roster, Terry Francona wouldn’t have to take him to fill the game’s requirement. That this year’s All-Star Game doesn’t count — it’s the first since 2002 that won’t dictate home-field advantage in the World Series — could alter Francona’s roster construction to reward more starters and closers, and the Cleveland Indians manager would certainly be justified if he wanted to take his own setup guy in Miller.

The White Sox handed Kahnle the lead on Adam Engel’s first career home run (a solo shot in the third) and Jose Abreu’s dash home on a passed ball in the fourth. Starter Derek Holland was solid, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Melky Cabrera added a solo home run in the ninth inning, his eighth of the season.

Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce homered off Robertson and Chris Beck, respectively, in the ninth inning to give the A’s a comfortable ending to their three-game sweep of the White Sox. Beck was hit by a comebacker after allowing that home run and left the game with a bruised left hamstring, and is considered day-to-day.