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posted: 4/27/2014 8:00 AM

Bad mechanics may not be cause of Sale's arm issues

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  • While Chris Sale did go on the disabled list, White Sox fans should remember that he made a combined 59 starts in 2012 and 2013.

      While Chris Sale did go on the disabled list, White Sox fans should remember that he made a combined 59 starts in 2012 and 2013.
    Associated Press

  • While Chris Sale did go on the disabled list, White Sox fans should remember that he made a combined 59 starts in 2012 and 2013.

      While Chris Sale did go on the disabled list, White Sox fans should remember that he made a combined 59 starts in 2012 and 2013.
    Associated Press

  • Since 2012, Chris Sale has averaged at least 9 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

      Since 2012, Chris Sale has averaged at least 9 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.
    Associated Press

 
By Matt Spiegel
Special to the Daily Herald

I'm sorry, but you won't get to say "I told you so."

Chris Sale has already proved more durable and viable as a starter than most talent evaluators predicted.

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As he made his annual, initially terrifying trip to the disabled list this week, we again heard innumerable references to his awkward mechanics.

Yes, he looks pained and bizarre as he throws. His delivery is like a toolbox that's upended violently, with all the contents magically ending up together in a champagne glass.

So he must be a major injury waiting to happen, right?

Every pitcher is. Even those with "perfect" mechanics (Mark Prior), or those who were babied with extreme caution at every turn (Matt Harvey), and even big, strong lefties who looked like the mechanical antithesis of Sale (Matt Moore).

The constant assumption of impending doom for Sale reminds me of how people used to talk about Tim Lincecum and the uniquely weird delivery his father taught him.

Lincecum faded badly at age 28, and he is now trying to re-discover his excellence at age 30. But I'm pretty sure the Giants will accept his two Cy Young Awards and six straight years of 30-plus starts as validation of their scouting reports.

In the 2010 draft, just about every team saw Sale as, at best, a closer -- or maybe just a LOOGY (lefty one-out guy). The White Sox aimed higher.

Even if the worst materializes and Sale tears a labrum or elbow ligament in the next few years, it would at this point speak to the league-wide epidemic more than any one pitcher's specific flaws.

The object of derision:

The jokes were easy. I made a bunch of them.

"Boy, that Wrigley cake made special for the 100th anniversary sure looks good, but too bad it has never won a single baking contest."

As the ceremony played out Wednesday, people started to question some choices.

Why were so few ex-players present? How can you have no one from the 1989 or 2003 teams? Just Ryan Dempster (who happened to be there working for MLB Network) from the 2007-08 teams? Why not bring back 100 players like they did at Fenway?

The Cubs were going to be ridiculed for celebrating a championship-free century, regardless of how they did it. If there were 100 players, people would make fun of the lesser lights in attendance. "Is that really Mickey Morandini?!"

Until the franchise is a winner, the Cubs will remain the lowest-hanging fruit for sports comedy in the country.

Speaking of Sammy Sosa:

One thing that genuinely needs fixing is the relationship with Sammy Sosa. It is on the team to make it happen.

If Sosa is so woefully un-self aware that he doesn't realize he needs to make amends for the way he walked out on his team at the end, then it is the organization's job to tell him so.

The Cubs need to facilitate the conversation, so the awkwardness of pretending the one-time face of your franchise did not exist can end.

Abreu's slugging:

Sluggers in their prime don't just materialize from nowhere.

But Jose Abreu has. The game-winning grand slam Friday night was, so far, the highlight of the White Sox season.

It helped Abreu establish a rookie home run record for the month of April. He is, of course. not a typical first-year guy; if he wins rookie of the year it will feel similar to when Ichiro Suzuki did after years of greatness in Japan.

The variety of styles with which Arreau hits his bombs is something.

Friday's walk-off was the kind that impresses most -- hands back on a pitch outside, Abreau uncoiled with some serious bat speed and made violent barrel-of-the-bat contact to the opposite field.

Real big-man strength means he can hit it out anywhere.

Jose Abreu is the most fearsome hitter in town.

• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.

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