Chris Sale is ready to return to the mound after sitting out nine days with a tired arm.
The young Chicago White Sox left-hander’s fastball was topping out at 91 mph in his previous two starts before the team shut him down.
“This was [management’s] call,” Sale said on Sunday. “They came to me in Texas and said they were thinking about doing some things, so there was not much to fight.”
Sale had talked the front office out of making him the team’s closer in a meeting on June 1 after coming up with a sore elbow. The team devised a plan to rest Sale at different intervals of the season to protect his arm.
At this point and time there is no plan to permanently shut down the young hurler like the Stephen Strasburg plan (shut down after 175 innings) in Washington.
“I think it was good to [rest] now so the last couple of months we can really make a push,” Sale said. “Hopefully it won’t come again and we can put this other stuff behind us.”
A lot of concentration has been centered on Sale’s velocity drop as he gets ready to pitch against Kansas City on Monday night. Sale is unsure what his arm will be capable of after missing one rotation turn.
“We will see. If it is there, cool, if not I still have to pitch,” Sale said of his velocity. “Whether it is there or not, I still have to pitch. No matter how hard it is going you still have to get outs.”
Sale had 12 days between starts in early- to mid-July and now has this nine-day gap. During these down periods Sale has used the time to improve his overall pitching skills.
“Pretty much anyone can go out there with good stuff and be good,” he said. “It’s the days you don’t have the good stuff, you have to dig deep and find a way. I learned to keep the ball down and make pitches. Sometimes [hitters] don’t know you don’t have your good stuff.”
This season, Sale’s first as a professional starting pitcher, Sale’s performance (12-3 2.61 ERA) has been among the best in baseball. He is second in the league in starters ERA and second in winning percentage (. 800). His last start was on July 27 at Texas, winning despite giving up a career high five runs in 6.1 innings.