A day after throwing 86 pitches in his first major league start in over a month, White Sox ace Chris Sale isn't experiencing anything beyond a normal level of post-start soreness.
Sale, who landed on the disabled list in April with a flexor muscle strain in his left arm, said he doesn't anticipate that status to change.
"Today’s just kind of stiff, but still nothing – I mean I went through my whole workout, whole shoulder program," Sale said. "The true test is throwing but I don’t feel anything in there different than any other time."
The sense of normalcy is a welcome change for Sale, even if he knew he wouldn't go beyond the sixth inning Thursday. He flirted with a perfect game, retiring the first 17 batters he faced before allowing a two-out single in the sixth. No matter how well his start was going, though, he wasn't in a position to campaign to go back out for the seventh and beyond.
"I knew what the deal was," Sale said. "You know, in the situation I’m in, you can’t really argue too much with anybody. I mean, I knew what the plan was. I knew we had something going there. I’m just happy to be back out there. I’m not going to complain about trying to do more.”
Twenty-two percent of Sale's pitches on Thursday were sliders, an uptick from the 17 percent rate he's thrown that pitch this season. Catcher Tyler Flowers said he didn't receive and edict to stay away from that pitch, and with the Yankees being aggressive early in counts he felt it'd be an important pitch to keep opposing hitters off balance.
The strategy paid off, as Sale wound up striking out 10 of the 19 batters he faced while making Yankees hitters look foolish on a number of late-count changeups. It's a pitch, though, that puts pressure on a pitcher's elbow -- though that Flowers was able to call it as much as he did stands as a good indication Sale's healthy.
"There was definitely no limitation given to me as far as how many I could throw or anything of that matter, but I’m not going to be a moron back there and call 40 of them," Flowers said. "I tried to use them at the times where I knew that was the right pitch to throw, where I knew this guy was going to be looking for a couple of first-pitch fastballs, maybe we already saw a couple changeups. You’ve got to throw a wrinkle in there every once in a while.”
It had been a frustrating stretch for Sale, having to cautiously work his way back while knowing the importance he has as his team's ace. Sale may not switch his between-start routine, outside of icing a little more here and there.
But the minutiae misses the bigger point: Sale's back, and feels his DL stint is behind him.
"It’s not fun watching your team play without you and having other people do your job for your and not really being able to pull your own weight," Sale said. "I don’t have much weight to pull, but I still like to do my part.”