Chris Sale‘s return to relief pitching turned out to be short-lived indeed. The White Sox announced on Friday that Sale will return to the starting rotation and will take the mound on Saturday against the Royals. Sale will replace left-hander Eric Stults, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s middle game. “He’s back in [the rotation],” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Friday’s series opener.
… As it turns out, Sale was able to talk his way back into the rotation. “Let’s just say I really, really thought I could do this,” Sale said. “This is something that’s been a dream of mine and a passion of mine for very long, and at the end of the day, I felt that I could do this and felt poorly that I set a goal to do this and fell drastically short. I felt like I was letting my teammates down and felt like I was depending on other people to pick up my slack.”
… When the club returned to Chicago on Thursday, Sale underwent an MRI, which the left-hander said was identical to the MRI he underwent after being selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. “MRI is clean and pristine,” White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. “He’s going to pitch.”
Williams said the club prides itself on protecting its young pitchers and will continue to monitor Sale closely now that his one-week hiatus from the bullpen is over. “We are very conservative in our approach with regards to the care of particularly our pitchers,” Williams said. “I think our history, when you look at all the injury reports over the last dozen years, will show you that. “The course of action that we’ve taken with [Sale] has not been unlike the course of action we’ve taken with many of our Minor League guys in such situations.”
So what changed since last week? “The only thing that changed was that when the expression of general soreness turns into ‘I feel pain in my elbow’ and ‘I feel discomfort in my elbow,'” Williams said. “It’s beyond the general soreness that we’ve come to expect.” Williams said the 23-year-old Sale was unyielding in his desire to pitch out of the rotation when they spoke on the phone during the White Sox recent road trip.
“I’m really proud of him, because he stood up for himself,” Williams said. “The reason why this changed is that when Robin Ventura said he was going to the bullpen, that was a course of action. That was the game plan based on what [Sale] had communicated to our medical staff. “What changed is Chris Sale’s phone call to me, saying, ‘No, it’s not exactly described as pain. It’s more general soreness. It’s something that I’ve had and I can get through this. And he was adamant about it. He was adamant to the point where he almost crossed the line. And I like that.” …
What a relief! Seems the coaching staff heard ‘pain in the elbow’ and blacked out. Why they didn’t skip his start and have him undergo an MRI immediately I don’t understand.
“I truly felt this was something I could do,” Sale said of starting, and he made that clear to Williams in a phone call the day he worked out of the bullpen.
“He wants it badly, and I love that about him,” said Williams, whose conversation with Sale brought about the latest change. “I’m really proud because he stood up for himself. When Robin Ventura said he was going to the bullpen, what changed was a Chris Sale phone call to me.”
Sale insisted that what initially was thought to be “pain” in his elbow — Williams called it “a red flag” to the team — was more “general soreness.” Sale told Williams, “I can get through this.”
“He was adamant. He almost crossed the line,” Williams said. “But the forcefulness he had told us something. It told us he has something extra mentally.”
And the closer now according to Robin Ventura is “Whoever ends up in the ninth inning”.
BTW, here’s James’ take.