Sale gets first chance to turn page

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It might be slightly more than your typical first start of the spring when Chris Sale takes the mound Friday in the Chicago White Sox's Cactus League opener.

Sale has grown into one of the team's veteran leaders at the tender age of 24 (he turns 25 on March 30, the day before Opening Day). He is clearly more confident around his peers now, no longer worried about stepping on anybody's toes as one of the new guys.

And now that he has been around to see how things work, he is also anxious to see how the White Sox move away from a disastrous 2013, when a 99-loss season embarrassed everybody up and down the roster.

So in that sense, Friday's first spring game marks a new beginning. At the very least it's a chance for many players to finally take the field with a sense of optimism still intact.

"Everyone seems to be working hard, coming in everyday with a good attitude," Sale said. "(Jose Abreu) has always got a smile on his face, laughing, having a good time, but at the same time he's very intense. He's a very, very hard worker. He's non-stop hitting. That's what you love to see about a new guy coming in and really taking every advantage he has of being here and working hard.

"Same thing with Adam (Eaton) and Matt (Davidson), they're always working on their craft, whether it's base running or hitting or on the defensive side of it. It's nice to see, and it gets you excited for the spring."

It seemed clear to almost everybody watching last season that some new blood was needed. Sale knew it too, but it still didn't make it easy to move on.

"I was kind of on the fence with it," Sale admitted Thursday. "It's like obviously we're not getting it done with what we have. But for me it was one of two things, do this or just keep them together. It can't happen like this again.

"I was excited to hear all the stuff that happened in the offseason. I had a couple buddies leave, which kind of stinks, but at the same time with stuff like that happening, with guys like him, Eaton and big guy over here (Abreu), it's exciting."

The lack of team play in 2013 visibly angered Sale at times, and he would vent about it one day and then apologize for his candor the next.

"It was the entire season, I felt like crazy things happened," Sale said. "That's just how sports and baseball is in general. Just when you think you've seen it all, something else happened. Just some bad luck too. But like my dad, my parents said, we got all of the bad luck out of the way last year. Hopefully there will be that much good luck this year."