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posted: 6/3/2012 9:26 PM

Sox' Sale strikes fear into hitters; maybe fans, too

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  • White Sox starter Chris Sale went the distance Sunday, defeating the Mariners 4-2 at U.S. Cellular Field.

      White Sox starter Chris Sale went the distance Sunday, defeating the Mariners 4-2 at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

Chris Sale might scare White Sox fans as much as he does hitters.

The young lefty is seductive. You watch him pitch, you want to see more of him, and he's even better the next time out.

Sale's stuff is for the ages but is his body?

I'm not sure there ever has been a power pitcher built the way Chris Sale is at 6-feet-6 and 180 pounds.

Guys who throw as hard as he does generally have a butt, thighs, calves and ankles like a running back. Their velocity comes from the waist down.

Sale's lower half looks like mine, and I weigh 140 pounds. His upper half isn't all that overwhelming either.

But that arm oh, that arm.

Sale whips or slings or flings the ball in such a manner that it winds up zooming and zipping and rising or dipping.

Take the fastball, mix in devastating sliders and change-ups and you have the type of performance Sale inflicted Sunday on the Mariners.

"He keeps getting better," Sox manager Robin Ventura said after his team's 4-2 victory.

That's saying something because the last time out, Sale struck out 15 in 7 innings on the way to beating Tampa Bay.

This time out Sale struck out only eight -- if "only" is the right word -- but recorded his first major-league complete game.

"Yeah, you could," Ventura said when asked whether Sale is "getting" what "it" takes to pitch in the big leagues. "He's becoming more efficient. That's going to make him an elite pitcher."

Some might say Sale is elite already, considering he was selected American League Pitcher of the Month for May.

Sale didn't learn of the honor until after the game and was, well, honored to win the award after veteran teammate Jake Peavy won it for April.

That's how it's going for Sale, a mere 23 years old and a mere two years out of Florida Gulf State University and a mere two months into his career as a major-league starting pitcher.

Ventura said before the game that Sale was "fully developed." Afterward it was "he's getting better." That might be what Theo Epstein would refer to as "parallel tracks."

Efficiency is what made Sale better against the Mariners than against the Rays, going 1 more innings on only 4 more pitches.

The Sox needed Sale to go deep into the Sunday's game at Comiskey Park because their bullpen was taxed in a 12-inning loss the night before.

"I just take it day to day," Sale said, who leads the league in ERA at 2.29. "I try to exclude every other thing but execution."

So here Sale is: Pitcher of the month, league ERA leader at 2.29, most effective pitcher on a first-place team, tantalizing, mesmerizing

And skinnier than a fungo bat.

Sale felt a little elbow soreness earlier in the season, made one appearance out of the bullpen and talked his way back into the starting rotation.

The Sox are monitoring his health and presumably will limit his workload this year, though how and when isn't quite clear.

"It's going to come up," Sale said. "We'll address it (then). I'm not doing anything else (now) but focus on my job."

Maybe it's best for everybody else to focus on Chris Sale striking fear into hitters because thinking the other thought is a bit too frightening.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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