Chris Sale bulks up his winter routine

CHICAGO -- When you are as thin as Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, you take 15 extra pounds any way you can get them.

So while working with a personal trainer five days a week has been beneficial, he has tried other avenues as well.

“I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I do have a soft spot for some Taco Bell and Five Guys,” Sale sheepishly admitted. “I guess those are my cheat stations.”

Sale is hoping that some bulk on a frame that was listed at 6-foot-6, 180-pounds last season will help him get through the rigors of a long season. His 4.11 ERA in September was his highest of any month last season, as was his 1.457 WHIP.

His fade mirrored the club’s, just as the talk of him among the Cy Young Award contenders ended quickly. For a guy that can be teased that he’s not even visible from certain angles, the added weight was a no-brainer.

“I told these guys I put on some weight and they didn’t believe me,” Sale said. “I told them my shoe size got bigger, that it went all the way down to my feet. I’m feeling good. Everything is great. My body feels good, I feel loose. I’m just excited for spring training to start and ready to get going.”

The plan from manager Robin Ventura is to hold Sale back a little this spring just as a precaution. Sale long ago said he wasn’t interested in participating in the World Baseball Classic this spring, so there is no rush to get him ready to pitch.

“We have a little bit longer spring training schedule this season so I think it will be good,” Sale said. “I’ll be able to build up some arm strength and kind of find myself as a pitcher again. You kind of get away from off-the-mound stuff for a while and you get back on there. It will be enough time to figure out mechanics, arm angles and get all that stuff back. I’m excited for it.”

After throwing 192 innings this past season the front-line starter figures to soar past the 200 mark for the first time in 2013.

“Obviously that’s the main question for most people but like in season’s past I’m not putting much expectation on it,” Sale said. “I’m just trying to go about my business and do everything the right way. If I do everything I’m supposed to everything will work out in the end. I’m not much of a goal-setter or try to live up to expectations because sometimes that can be a good and a bad thing. Just see it out and play it through and it will work out in the end.”

Grateful for his opportunity to work with A.J. Pierzynski as his career got off the ground, Sale thinks there will be no significant drop off when Tyler Flowers takes over this year.

“Yeah, obviously losing A.J., he’s an All-Star caliber player, he’s elite, he’s one of the best and he’s done it for a long time,” Sale said. “I was very fortunate to be able to at such an early stage of my career, to link up with a backstop like him.

“I think you can walk around this room and talk to everybody in here and they’ll all agree that Tyler is no slouch behind the plate. He’s right there. He works hard, he studies video, he’s got 15 sheets of paper on the desk before he starts. He prepares with the best of them and behind the plate he’s awesome. I think with consistent at-bats you’re going to see a different guy this year.”

Just because he’s added some bulk, though, doesn’t mean Sale will be comfortable shaking off signs from Flowers.

“Tyler is a lot bigger than I am,” Sale joked. “Look, obviously we’re going to be on the same page more often than not. We’re going to work well together. This is not just me and him, it’s us. And that goes for everybody in here, the whole pitching staff. We’re going to be working together and bouncing ideas off each other and we’ll see how it shakes out.”