Speed and strength are not the first things that come to mind upon first glance of White Sox pitcher Chris Sale. At 6’6″ and 180 lbs, the lanky lefty exudes a quiet confidence that is backed by the ability to shut down offenses and sink pitches that average around 96 mph.
If you’re a fan of the game, then there’s a good chance you know of Chris Sale. But let’s take a closer look at Sale and what makes the 24-year old ace so special as one of the anchors of the White Sox organization, demonstrated by the huge contract extension he received this off-season. Can Sale live up to the ace expectations?
Chris Sale was born in Lakeland, Florida where he attended high school. Sale was originally drafted by the Rockies in 2007, but decided not to sign and instead played baseball at Florida Gulf Coast University (yes, the same Cinderella FGCU that beat Georgetown and San Diego State in the 2013 NCAA Tournament before losing to Florida in the Sweet 16). In 2010 he was named the NCAA pitcher of the year with a record of 11-0. The Sox saw the amazing potential and drafted Sale 13th overall in 2010.
Sale spent very little time in the White Sox minors’ before being called up in August of 2010 becoming one of only five players in MLB history to play the same year he was drafted.
Sale started in the bullpen, notching his first save against the Cleveland Indians. Even though he began to have success as a closer he always longed to be a starter. Sale got his opportunity in 2012 and in his first season as a starter he went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA. It was at this point that management saw the future and that future was the left-hander with 4 strong pitches in his repertoire.
However, mid-season 2012 Sale was once again relegated to bullpen duty, but this time it was due to left elbow tenderness. He blew his one and only save opportunity and moved back into the starting rotation and earned his first of hopefully many All-Star appearances.
This past off-season Chris got his first taste of dealing with the business aspect of baseball…the contract extension. Both sides wanted the same thing for a long career right here on the south side. In March 2013, both sides agreed to a 5-year $32 million dollar contract with 2 team options.
WIth a long-term contract now behind him, Sale has been getting down to business this season going 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA. Sale is pitching lights out; giving his team a chance to win when he’s on the mound. He is the stopper during a losing streak and gives his coaches and teammates confidence when he’s on the mound. But what makes Sale so unique is that he doesn’t just throw hard; he changes speeds and with his funky side arm throwing motion he keeps hitters off balance.
Chris Sale has the faith of his wife and son, his teammates, the White Sox coaches, the entire organization and Chicago White Sox fans. With Sale locked in for at least the next 5 years, the future on the south side is bright!
Injury Note: Chris Sale threw a bullpen session Sunday and had no problems after experiencing tendonitis last week and sitting out his last start. Sale gets the start in Game 2 against the Chicago Cubs in the Crosstown Classic Tuesday night at 7:10PM.