GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale gave a nod to backup catcher Hector Gimenez for his help in the left-hander’s first start of the spring.
A 17-game winner last season, Sale got off to a fast start, but not the kind you’d like to, as he put two men on base with one out.
Sale only got out of trouble after Gimenez paid a visit to the mound in the first inning. He recovered quickly and didn’t allow a run in 2 1/3 innings in a 9-7 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
“The first inning was kind of sporadic,” Sale said. “Just felt like I was going one million miles per hour. Hector came out and said, ‘slow it down.’ When I threw my offspeed stuff, it kind of slowed me down and got me back to where I was. Thanks to him, I was able to pull it out.”
Sale allowed two hits and a walk and struck out two. He threw 48 pitches, 29 for strikes.
Though the White Sox haven’t announced it yet -- manager Robin Ventura declined to on Friday -- Sale is in line to be the team’s Opening Day starter on April 1 against Kansas City.
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“As far as today went, it’s a good building block,” Sale said. “I’m very satisfied with how it went. Obviously, there’s room for improvement in anything you do. But this is a good building point. Day One, hot on the mound. Build from this and learn from this and try to go into the next one a little more.”
Ventura agreed with the assessment. Sale is the first of the White Sox regular starting pitchers to appear in a game even though the team has been in camp for nearly three weeks.
“I don’t think he was as sharp as he would like to be, but it’s nice to get him out there and get the juices flowing a little bit,” Ventura said.
Gimenez also had a nice day at the plate. He singled in all three of hits at-bats, scored a pair of runs and drove in one. He is 5-for-7 this spring.
Viciedo, Morel homer
Dayan Viciedo hit a tape-measure home run off Indians starter Justin Masterson in Friday’s loss, his first of the spring. The monster shot soared past the palm trees in left at Goodyear Ballpark and out of the facility, landing about 20 feet beyond the fence in a dirt lot.
Ventura sees the drive, which likely measured around 450 feet, as another sign of progress as Viciedo gets accustomed to the leg kick hitting coach Jeff Manto recently installed in his approach.
“It just looks better for me,” Ventura said. “Being able to cover a lot of different pitches. For him to recognize and be able to attack when he gets in the right counts, today was one of those where I think you will see a little bit more of that.”
Two batters later, Brent Morel hit his first homer of the spring, a long shot to left, also off Masterson.
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Sox minor-leaguer Marcus Semien also homered, a three-run drive.
Danks on Saturday
Pitcher John Danks had a bullpen session scheduled for Friday pushed back one day to Saturday. But Ventura said Danks is still on pace to start on Monday when the White Sox host the San Francisco Giants in Glendale.