Sale Adjusts To Big Leagues Quickly For White Sox
CHICAGO — Lefthander Chris Sale didn't face a lot of big-reputation hitters at Florida Gulf Coast, where the Atlantic Sun Conference opponents included Mercer, East Tennessee State, Stetson and Lipscomb.
And after the White Sox made him the 13th overall pick in June he took the express lane to the big leagues, where he continued to treat hitters as if he didn't know who they were. At one point in his first seven big league appearances, the 21-year-old struck out Joe Mauer, Jim Thome and Johnny Damon.
"I really don't think about anything except making a pitch," Sale said. "I still have a job to do."
Sale got to Chicago after only 11 minor league outings. He quickly became an important member of Ozzie Guillen's bullpen, allowing only three hits in his first seven innings.
In an outing at Target Field on Aug. 18, Sale used his 97 mph fastball, delivered from a three-quarters arm angle, to overpower Thome and Mauer. The reigning American League MVP went down on three pitches, the last being a weak hack at a slider.
"He's got great stuff," Thome said. "And his arm angle is lower. He's impressive."
White Sox general manager Ken Williams cited Sale's plus changeup as a reason to consider him for a big league promotion so quickly, saying it compared favorably to Mark Buehrle's changeup. But Sale has mostly been a fastball/slider pitcher out of the bullpen, saving the changeup for 2011, when he's likely to be considered for a starter's role.
Sale believes he has an advantage because major league hitters don't know him.
"They've never seen me before," Sale said. "They have no video. If I had been playing for three years, they could watch on video and see where my arm comes from and see what pitches I throw."
• Converted to the bullpen after four years as a starter, 24-year-old righthander Anthony Carter was trying to hang onto his Southern League lead in saves. He had 21 for Double-A Birmingham and was holding opponents to a .219 average.
• Lefthander Matt Wickstat, righthander Jacob Petricka and righthander Taylor Thompson combined for a seven-inning no-hitter at low Class A Kannapolis on Aug. 20. Petricka was the Sox's second-round pick in June out of Indiana State.