Sale's college coach confident in pitcher's move to rotation

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Sale's college coach confident in pitcher's move to rotation

Chris Sale made his final pre-season start on Tuesday, striking out six Astros in four innings of work. He's set to make his major-league debut as a starting pitcher next week in Cleveland, and with it will come uncertainty. Before March, it'd been nearly two years since Sale made his last start, that being in college with Florida Gulf Coast University.

FGCU coach Dave Tollett, though, doesn't have much uncertainty when it comes to his outlook on his former player, especially with regard to Sale's increased innings load.

"I think he is going to be fine, Tollett said, speaking before FGCU faced Florida State Wednesday." He was a starter for us and then he went straight from us after throwing 90-some innings to the Cape Cod League and threw about 62 there. I think he is going to be fine durability-wise."

That was in 2009, when Sale threw 89 13 innings for FGCU before moving on to Cape Cod for the summer. He didn't experience any ill effects the next year, making 15 starts with a 2.01 ERA for FGCU in 2010.

"For us, he was National Collegiate Player of the Year," Tollett continued. "There's no question he's that guy. He has that kind of tools to be one of the top 15 pitchers in the big leagues."

And, for Tollett, Sale's makeup is unquestionably good. Don't dismiss it as coach hyperbole, either -- Sale signed with the White Sox early so he could have a chance to compete in the major leagues only a few months after he left college.

"One of the best kids I have ever coached. He's a competitor," Tollett said. "When you say competitor, his picture is in the dictionary next to it. He loves to compete."

Big thanks to friend of the site and 247Sports.com Florida State reporter Corey Dowlar for getting the quotes.

Don Cooper remembers what made Mark Buehrle so special 

Don Cooper remembers what made Mark Buehrle so special 

Mark Buehrle didn’t have the kind of attributes found in most of the dominant pitchers of the post-steroid era. He was a 38th-round draft pick with a fastball that, on a good day, would scrap the upper 80’s. 

On Saturday, Buehrle will become the third pitcher to have his number retired in White Sox history, joining Ted Lyons (No. 16) and Billy Pierce (No. 19). For Don Cooper, who was Buehrle’s pitching coach from 2002-2011, it’s not hard to see why the St. Charles, Mo. native’s name will forever be a part of White Sox history. 

“Reliable, consistent, dependable, winner, good guy, unflappable, these are words that come to mind when I think about him,” Cooper said. 

Cooper was flooded with plenty of memories of Buehrle during the dozen minutes he spent chatting with the media on Friday. He said he learned a lot from working with Buehrle, watching him fill up the strike zone and induce early, weak contact while working at a brisk pace. One of Cooper's memories that stood out was this one:

“I can remember in the bullpen, he’d be warming up, he’d throw about 10 pitches,” Cooper said. “He’d look at me, I’d look at him. He wasn’t throwing very good. He turned to me and said, ‘Come on, let’s go, this isn’t going to get me any better.’”

But that was Buehrle — “In many ways, you could just wind him up and you’re throwing him out there every five days,” Cooper said. He battled through days where he didn’t have his best stuff — not that his stuff was electric to begin with — and turned in 14 consecutive years with 200 or more innings. 

Buehrle, of course, threw a no-hitter in 2007 and a perfect game in 2009, and along with save in Game 3 of the World Series represent some of the crowning achievements of his career. Cooper was happy to have been a part of it from his perch on the White Sox bench. 

“I think he was blessed,” Cooper said. “He was given a lot of gifts. The sinking fastball, the changeup, the cutter. His curveball, by scouts’ assessments, would probably be rated an average curveball. But as time went and as his stuff went down, we started to use that more. When he was at his best, we would throw about 8-10 of those. But as he started losing his stuff we had to mix more of those in. And listen, the career he had, his number being retired, the kids, his family — blessed. He’s been a blessed guy.” 

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

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USA TODAY

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

Adam Engel is making the most of his second opportunity with the White Sox.

Engel had his best game of the season in Thursday’s finale against the Minnesota Twins, where he went 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, and two RBIs in the White Sox 9-0 win. He became the first White Sox outfielder with a four-hit game within their first 11 career MLB games since Harold Baines (10th game) on April 20, 1980, according to CSN stats guru Chris Kamka.

"Some days you hit it, some days you don’t," Engel said. "Yesterday was the day that I hit it.”

After nearly a five-hour rain delay, the White Sox came out hot right from the get-go on Thursday. In fact, by the time Engel was ready to bat for the first time, the White Sox were already leading 4-0 and Twins starter Nik Turley had been yanked from the game.

“It was awesome,” Engel. “(The) team is winning, getting some hits. It’s a great feeling. Obviously the goal is to try and help the team win.”

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Engel made his major league debut on May 27 and then was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on June 9. His wife Jaime had a child on June 12, and almost a week later, he was recalled again by the White Sox to replace an injured Leury Garcia.

Engel, who's hitting .344/.382/.406 entering Friday's game, will look to keep his hot streak going with his wife and newborn in attendance.