Sale to ad­just in Year 2

Ace plans to be good to go in Oc­to­ber, too

Boston Herald - - NBA/NHL SCOREBOARD/RACING - By JA­SON MASTRODONATO Twit­ter: @JMas­trodonato

FORT MY­ERS — Ex­pect less from Chris Sale this year, at least in the be­gin­ning.

The Red Sox ace struck out 26 bat­ters with just two walks in 21 spring train­ing in­nings last year — a dom­i­nant per­for­mance, even by Grape­fruit League stan­dards — and be­gan the reg­u­lar sea­son with a 1.19 ERA and 52 strike­outs in 372⁄3 in­nings in April.

Sale may not even throw that many in­nings be­fore May this time around.

The Sox will be watch­ing his work­load care­fully in an at­tempt to pre­serve Sale’s stamina, and the new plan is geared to­ward keeping him fresh for Septem­ber and, hope­fully, Oc­to­ber, when he be­gan to fade in his first year with the ball­club, though still post­ing a 3.00 ERA in his fi­nal six starts.

“I think once I got home (after the Di­vi­sion Se­ries loss to the Hous­ton Astros) I re­flected on the sea­son, and that was when it was like, ‘All right, some­thing needs to change,’” Sale said yes­ter­day at JetBlue Park. “I came into spring train­ing a lit­tle too pre­pared. I felt like I had some­thing to prove last year, too. I’m here in a new city with a new team and I felt like I had to prove my­self again. I think that kind of came back to bite me in the end.”

Most pitch­ers use spring train­ing to work on spe­cific pitches or me­chan­i­cal is­sues. Sale used last year’s ex­hi­bi­tions to over­power hit­ters.

“Last year was kind of crazy be­ing new,” he said. “And this year is more, not re­ally get­ting ac­cli­mated, but just kind of run­ning through the same stuff. New-car smell is gone. Feel­ing good. Feel­ing nor­mal now. Just kind of wor­ried about base­ball and take it from there.”

But the un­set­tling feel­ing stuck with Sale when he got back to Florida after the sea­son. He felt like he wasn’t good enough in Oc­to­ber, that he dis­ap­pointed in his first taste of post­sea­son ac­tion.

Last month, Sale revealed that he would take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach this time around, using a slower build-up pe­riod and hop­ing to spend less en­ergy early in the sea­son in an at­tempt to be more fresh by the end.

Yes­ter­day, he re­it­er­ated a com­mit­ment to the plan, even if it means leaving April games early, should new man­ager Alex Cora have a tight leash on him for his first few starts.

“That’s part of the process,” Sale said. “That’s where the trust in each other and the faith in the process as a whole comes into play. (Ex­ple­tive), I don’t like com­ing out of the game in the eighth in­ning with 120 pitches. What’s the dif­fer­ence (if I come out ear­lier)? For me, it’s trust­ing, trust­ing the process, trust­ing the big pic­ture and know­ing if he takes me out after the fifth or sixth in­ning, he’s not pick­ing on me, he has a job to do too. He’s man­ag­ing an en­tire team, not just man­ag­ing me. He’s do­ing what’s best for the team and I have 100-per­cent faith in the coach­ing staff to get this done.”

If Sale is be­ing held back in April and/or May, it’ll be on David Price, Rick Por­cello and Drew Pomer­anz to pick him up. Por­cello has been durable, but Price is com­ing off an el­bow tear and Pomer­anz is com­ing off throw­ing a ca­reer-high 1732⁄3 in­nings.

Fifth-starter can­di­dates Ed­uardo Ro­driguez and Steven Wright are both com­ing off knee surgery and in a “slow pro­gres­sion” this spring, ac­cord­ing to Dave Dom­browski, pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions.

‘I’m here in a new city with a new team and I felt like I had to prove my­self again. I think that kind of came back to bite me in the end.’ — CHRIS SALE On wear­ing down late last sea­son

STAFF PHOTO BY MATT STONE

OVER THE TOP: Red Sox start­ing pitcher Chris Sale pitches dur­ing his bullpen ses­sion dur­ing the open­ing of spring train­ing yes­ter­day in Fort My­ers.

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