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Sale sharp in sim game, set to start Monday

Lefty ace enjoying first Spring Training with Red Sox
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As far as simulations go, Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale had no complaints with Wednesday's 38-pitch session from the main mound at JetBlue Park.

Facing teammates Dan Butler and Steve Selsky, the lefty displayed his filthy arsenal in preparation for his anticipated first Grapefruit League start for his new team Monday in West Palm Beach against the Astros.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As far as simulations go, Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale had no complaints with Wednesday's 38-pitch session from the main mound at JetBlue Park.

Facing teammates Dan Butler and Steve Selsky, the lefty displayed his filthy arsenal in preparation for his anticipated first Grapefruit League start for his new team Monday in West Palm Beach against the Astros.

"I threw two sets of right around 20, give or take maybe one or two on either side," Sale said. "I threw all my pitches. In the second inning, I was focusing on fastball and changeup because those are my feel pitches, and I try to get a little better feel for those and throw those a couple more times for repetition."

Video: Sale discusses rivalries in the AL East

Next time Sale pitches, there will be defenders behind him and thousands of fans in the audience.

"Today was a good work day and it was nice to pitch off a game mound with no L screens, no turtle [batting cage]," Sale said. "Everything went well."

The sim game was a necessary step for Sale, whose excitement has been building since the day the Red Sox traded for him nearly three months ago.

"I think I was ready on Dec. 7," Sale said. "I've been preparing for this. I feel good. Everything is going as planned and it's just a building process. Every day is a new day and you just try to build on what you did the previous day."

Video: Henry, Werner both glad to acquire Sale in trade

Pitching with another team for the first time, Sale has adjusted to life without longtime pitching coach Don Cooper while reveling in the fact he can commute to Spring Training from his home in Naples.

"I think now I've settled in enough where I've already adjusted to my surroundings," Sale said. "I mean, it's not like I don't have a pitching coach now, but the first couple days you notice that you're with different people, different surroundings, new facility, all that. But once you get going, all those other things fade away pretty quickly."

The other perk of Spring Training at home is that Sale is literally a big man on campus. He has taken teammates Joe Kelly, Hanley Ramirez and others to see his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University, play basketball. His old campus is roughly 10 minutes from JetBlue Park.

"Florida Gulf Coast gave me a chance when nobody else did," Sale said. "I'm forever grateful to them, forever indebted to that. I do like to spend time over there. I like going to hang out with the guys and some of the coaches and showing some of my support to the athletics program. Some of the guys came to me and heard that they were going to be at home and they were playing a game, so they were like, 'Hey, is there any way you can set it up?' And it was just a phone call for me. We had a good time over there."

Video: Sale has high expectations for 2017

But there's a good reason Sale won't be there for FGCU's next game in the ASUN Conference tournament Thursday.

"My son's got his first soccer practice [Thursday], so I will not be there, but I'm hoping they win [Thursday] so we can go up there on Sunday," Sale said.

And the day after Sunday is the one Sale finally gets to pitch in a game for the Red Sox.

"Very exciting," said Sale. "Now we're getting more into playing real baseball and not throwing off a side mound in simulation or anything like that. I'm excited, it'll be fun and I think I'm throwing against Houston, so we'll go see the new ballpark."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale