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Sale gives green light for Sunday's debut

Left-hander to face Twins at U.S. Cellular Field

KANSAS CITY -- The time for talking about the avulsion fracture in his right foot has come to a close for Chris Sale.

"It's behind me," said Sale, speaking in the White Sox clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium prior to Wednesday night's game. "I was hurt. I'm not hurt any more. It's time to take the blinders off and run the race."

Sale joined the team late Monday night after making his second and final Minor League rehab start, covering 72 pitches and five innings against the club's Class A Kannapolis squad in Arizona. The injury sustained during a home accident on Feb. 27 has been tested and re-tested, with the southpaw working through balance drills, leaping back and forth and doing some diagonal cuts in the weight and training room.

There were even a few in-game challenges covering first on Monday, which he passed with a high grade. The only thing missing for Sale was facing big league hitters at any point during Spring Training, but he doesn't believe that will be problem coming off of the disabled list and taking the mound Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field against the Twins.

"Hitters are hitters. It's just a body in the box," Sale said. "You still have to throw quality strikes. It doesn't matter who it is, from low A to the big leagues. You make mistakes and anybody can hurt you, so I'm not worried about that at all.

"Knock on wood, I feel better than I have and it saves some bullets. I don't know how much emphasis I'm going to put on not having all the innings that some of the other guys have, but I'm hoping it means my arm just feels a little better than theirs does. Got to save a few bullets and hopefully they come out in October."

Missing Opening Day stood as the bad news for Sale, who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last season with a 2.17 ERA and 208 strikeouts over 174 innings. But the good news is that Opening Day was the only game Sale missed, putting him back at the center of a team with high expectations for the 2015 campaign.

"I'm glad it was during spring, but it would have really stunk if it was during the season," Sale said. "I'm just glad it's all behind me. Really just worried about, I've got the Minnesota Twins next."

"He's a key part of our team, on the field and in the clubhouse, and it's good to have him," said White Sox starter John Danks. "He's one of the leaders in here, and one of my best buds, so I was happy to have him back. I'm happy he's healthy, happy he's ready to go, and I'm looking forward to watching him pitch."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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