Sale credits conditioning for breakout year

CHICAGO -- The reason for Chris Sale’s first-half success can be related to a factor that goes beyond his electric stuff on the mound.

After experiencing elbow tenderness and briefly moving to the bullpen as a result in early May, Sale had to increase his work load when it came to his shoulder and conditioning programs in order to get the OK to return as a starter.

“We had to make a few tweaks here and there in order to find out how I could progress,” Sale said. “The shoulder program was stepped up a bit to help keep the entire arm strong. The first month or so, we were still trying to figure out what kind of a running program and how much to throw in between starts.”

The caution shown by White Sox management was based on a sore elbow that flared up in late April.

“I am using a lot of long-distance running as a part of my preparation for each start,” said Sale, who will appear in his first All-Star Game next week. “I do two long-distance runs -- one Day 1 and one Day 3 between starts. In between, I do sprint runs on Day 2 and 4 and some short shuttles.”

All of that is just part of what the medical support staff led by Allen Thomas and trainers Herm Schneider and Brian Ball do with Sale to keep him strong and flexible.

“We use weights and all kinds of bands and throwing the ball against the trampoline. Lots of stuff like that and all of those conditioning aspects were picked up when we decided I was going to stay in the rotation,” Sale said. “We do that on Day 1 and Day 3 (between starts), we do a half conditioning, just another shoulder workout before I get out there.”

Sale has stayed focused on his work load, even though he will only pitch once -- at the All-Star Game -- in 12 or 13 days between starts.

“Hey you don’t want to start thinking about (the All-Star Game) too soon, that would be disrespectful to my teammates and would be cheating myself,” he said. “I just want to try and be a good teammate through all of this and not get too far ahead of myself.”

GM Kenny Williams has said that despite all of the work Sale has put in, he will have another rest period like this two-week hiatus at least one more time this season.