Sale Rebounds After Sluggish Season For Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Rays outfielder Josh Sale said there are a number of reasons for his hot start this season, including reworking his mechanics and dedicating himself to the game.
But most of it has been mental change—and motivation.
"He told me this spring, 'I don't want to be a .210 hitter anymore,' " scouting director R.J. Harrison said.
Sale, 20, was the Rays' first-round pick in 2010 (No. 17 overall) and struggled during a forgettable and frustrating first year of pro baseball, hitting . 210/.289/.346 in 60 games for Rookie-level Princeton in 2011.
But Sale has bounced back in a big way, batting .276/.393/.528 with eight homers in his first 38 games with low Class A Bowling Green.
Sale said he learned a lot from his struggles, making baseball his No. 1 priority, realizing the hard way how tough a transition it was going from high school to professional baseball.
"It wasn't a good feeling," Sale said of hitting .210. "It was some panic, I just didn't know what to do and when to do it. It was a real big change. But it's all good now, it was a learning experience and a stepping stone. I've taken things from it and tried to move on and start a pretty good path."
Sale went back to his hometown of Seattle in the offseason, reworking his swing with his former coaches.
"My first year I came in and wanted to hit .300 and have 10 bombs," Sale said. "And this year, I came in and said, 'You know what, forget the numbers, I just want to have good at-bats.' As long as you have good at-bats, you'll be giving yourself an opportunity to get hits."
Harrison said Sale has "grown up a lot" over the last year.
"He took stock of what happened last year and hopefully we'll be able to look back on this when he's up here (in the majors) playing," Harrison said. "You know what, it was a tough year for all of us, but he's learned from it."
• The Rays called up righthander Chris Archer to take Jeremy Hellickson's place in the rotation after Hellickson went on the disabled list. Archer, 23, had a 4.81 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Durham.
• Bowling Green lefthander Felipe Rivero continued his strong season. Through 74 innings, the 20-year-old Rivero had a 2.42 ERA while averaging just 2.2 walks per nine innings.