MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- When last you saw Chris Sale, he was putting away Manny Machado, who fell to one knee, to end the World Series with about the most wicked slider humanly possible. But in the days and weeks leading up to that, you saw a lefty ace who was
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- When last you saw Chris Sale, he was putting away Manny Machado, who fell to one knee, to end the World Series with about the most wicked slider humanly possible. But in the days and weeks leading up to that, you saw a lefty ace who was trying to get his full health back after an unsettling bout of left shoulder inflammation.
So when it comes to encouraging developments at Red Sox Winter Weekend, the fact that Sale is a full go again and feeling great about where he's at with his shoulder is at or near the top of the list.
"Good, really good," said Sale on Saturday. "I've been working out at JetBlue the entire offseason, going up there four or five days a week and training, so we have a good setup going."
While Sale is always a focal point with the Red Sox, it will have an added element in 2019 because the lanky lefty is eligible for free agency after the season.
Would Sale talk extension with the club before that?
"My phone is on if they call me," said Sale. "Obviously nothing has happened up until this point. If they call, I'd answer."
Sale doesn't think that the specter of free agency will have any impact on his preparation or performance for 2019.
"I'm not doing anything different," Sale said. "Just more of the same. I think for me personally, I just keep doing what I've always done. I've never really paid attention to stats or numbers or dollars and cents and all this other stuff. I just look at the left and right column and try and get more in the left than the right.
"My goals, my mindset, my everything doesn't change. I just keep playing baseball, and we'll either figure it out over the next couple months or figure it out in a few months. One or the other."
The key to Sale's short- and long-term success is the strength of his left shoulder, which betrayed him starting in late July of last season.
Sale is doing everything he can to make sure there's no repeat of that in '19.
"I've been playing catch for a couple of months and doing some things to strengthen my shoulder in the training room, but also doing some motions in the weight room to strengthen the shoulder and stuff like that," said Sale. "It's been good. Everything has been going well."
All Sale needs to do to feel the difference in his health is to play catch.
"Obviously I felt normal again, being able to throw free and easy and feel loose and kind of have that whip back; it's obviously a nice feeling," Sale said. "We're just kind of building up with a normal offseason and getting ready for Spring Training."
For the first time in his career, Sale will enter Spring Training already having won a World Series. How does that change things for him?
"Instead of winning [one] World Series, I want to win another one," Sale said. "Nothing changes. My wife asked me that same question. You work your entire life to achieve this goal, so what do you do once you achieve it? I said, 'You do it again.' It's why we sign up. You win once and you want to keep winning, and when you don't win, all you want to do is win. Our goal is to continue to keep winning games and win a couple of those trophies."
To get another one, the Red Sox will need a lot more wipeout sliders from Sale, who did get a few chances to look at the ones that ended the 2018 baseball season at Dodger Stadium.
"I've watched it maybe a couple hundred thousand times," quipped Sale. "It never gets old. Those last few, even just watching kind of the highlights from the entire series, it's really special. It's cool. I've worked my entire life, and we as a team worked from Day 1 of Spring Training to get there. And we got it. It was everything you can dream of."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.