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Slow Sale-ing for White Sox ace this spring

Left-hander to do most early work outside of game action
MLB.com @scottmerkin

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If you are looking for Chris Sale over the next few weeks of Spring Training, try the back fields at Camelback Ranch.

The White Sox ace will throw focused bullpen sessions, simulated games and even in a Minor League contest before he gets into Cactus League action around March 19, as mentioned by pitching coach Don Cooper on Friday. There's nothing physically wrong with Sale, a fact he celebrates daily after spending most of last Spring Training rehabbing an injured right foot.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If you are looking for Chris Sale over the next few weeks of Spring Training, try the back fields at Camelback Ranch.

The White Sox ace will throw focused bullpen sessions, simulated games and even in a Minor League contest before he gets into Cactus League action around March 19, as mentioned by pitching coach Don Cooper on Friday. There's nothing physically wrong with Sale, a fact he celebrates daily after spending most of last Spring Training rehabbing an injured right foot.

White Sox Spring Training information

Video: Sale on first day at Spring Training, 2016 goals

But Sale was able to get through a full season in '15 without making a Cactus League appearance. So the White Sox have worked out a special schedule designed to keep him fresh for the entire '16 campaign.

"We're slowing him down a little bit, but also mixing in plenty of opportunities for hands-on, focused work," said Cooper. "Tomorrow is his second BP. The next time he does something will be behind-the-scenes stuff.

"We'll get the catcher, hitters and work on specific stuff. He's just got a little different schedule. We need to get his innings and pitches up, I can tell you that. We're going to do it in a lower leveraged, stressed kind of environment. Simulated games, stuff like that where we're working on stuff -- his arm side stuff, working on the opposite side, backdoor breaking ball and specific stuff on days as we go.

"He'll be ready for the start of the season, and he's going to be ready to go at least seven innings and probably 110 pitches," Cooper said. "That's for all our starters."

'Blackout Game' still gives Danks chills

Cooper also plans to incorporate a plan of mixing up White Sox pitchers against Cactus League opponents such as Oakland and Cleveland, whom the White Sox will see over seven games during the regular season's first week. The team believes there's no reason to give these teams an extra look while in Arizona.

That thought process will allow starts for pitchers such as Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner, as well as prospects such as Carson Fulmer, Tyler Danish, Chris Beck and Jordan Guerrero.

"Even with Coop and his plan, it doesn't always look smooth the way he throws it out there at people," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But it's a good plan."

Timed mound visit no worry for Ventura

Major League Baseball enforcing a 30-second time limit on mound visits doesn't worry Ventura.

"I'll be all right. I'll be fine," Ventura said. "I'll be able to get out there and back."

Pace of game changes, new slide rule adopted

Video: Robin Ventura on implications of new mound visit rule

And as for Cooper hitting the time limit?

"That one we're going to work on," said Ventura, having a little fun with his pitching coach. "I know when he blew his hammy out, there was a question. There are times when he hasn't made it.

"They're just trying to clean up some time where they can. That's part of it, being able to identify the spots that are just wasted time. Some of it is needed.

"Some of it, you're protecting the guys out in the bullpen that they can get the proper amount of warmups," Ventura said. "You don't want them to warm up too much. There are times you can sit a guy down and take a little more time to be able to get him up, and it's not like you're getting him hot all the time."

Tweet from @whitesox: "There's a balance between intensity & having some fun, having enough fun to where your talent can come out." Read:https://t.co/iv55yYzcP8

Adjust your schedule

The White Sox will play intrasquad games Monday and Tuesday. They have "B" games scheduled for March 5 and 6.

Rodon might not hit 200 IP

Carlos Rodon threw a career-high 149 1/3 innings last season, but Ventura admits jumping to that 200-inning plateau might be a little much for the southpaw in '16.

Rodon ready for full season

"That's a lot. He's a big strong kid, and he wanted more last year," Ventura said. "There wasn't any question he wanted more.

"If he can continue down that path with his health and strength and all that, it's a possibility, but I think that's a real high number for him, just where he's at in his career. That's a big jump, but we'll see when we get there."

Rodon, 23, could be skipped a start or two to give him extended rest as the club did last year and with Sale in the past.

They said it

"It just shows that if you play good baseball, you are going to win more games than not. That's what we are going to do this year." -- Jake Petricka, on mimicking the Royals' winning style of baseball.

"What we've always said is, 'If you are not trying to improve and get better, what are we doing?'" -- Cooper, on his pitchers.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Chicago White Sox, Carlos Rodon, Chris Sale