Sale takes aim at 200 ... pounds

Lanky left-hander continues to build strength, endurance

Sale takes aim at 200 ... pounds

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The number 200 has special significance for Chris Sale.

No, it doesn't represent a victory goal for the White Sox ace, which would make him one of three pitchers in franchise history to win that many. And no, it's not the southpaw's strikeout target, a number he has surpassed in each of his last three seasons, including a team-record 274 in 2015.

It's not even the innings total every starting pitcher aspires to reach in a single season.

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This round number stands as the body weight Sale hopes to achieve in the not-too-distant future.

"My quest," said Sale with a laugh.

Sale made news by hitting 190 when he weighed in at camp this year, up from 180 last Spring Training. On Sale's 6-foot-6 frame, that increase is equivalent to most regular people feeling stuffed after eating a big meal.

But if the eternally thin Sale has a quest for 200, then who are we to scoff at such a notion? Allow a few of his White Sox friends to handle that role.

"Yeah, every time he comes in, he puts a couple pounds of weight in his back pocket so I can't see," said White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas about Sale and 200. "205 some days, 179 some days. It depends on how many Philly cheese steaks."

"I don't think he'll ever see 200. I don't think he'll ever see 195," said White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton. "And he's eating whatever he wants to come across his plate. I don't know, he's been blessed."

Outlook: Sale, SP, CWS

Food certainly does not rank as a Sale enemy. Check out some of the meals he devours.

Pizza, but Sale admits that's "junk food." At his house, he thrives on cheeseburgers, steaks and tacos.

"We don't miss many taco nights," said Sale. "My wife makes phenomenal tacos. So I would say steak, cheeseburgers and taco night."

Here's the truth of the matter behind all playful jousting. Sale could handle another 30 pounds on his frame and still be fine, according to Thomas, because of his work ethic in the weight room.

"So, it wouldn't bother me at all if he gained 10 to 15 pounds now," Thomas said. "Of course in a season, that might be a little bit too much for his body to be adjusted. I know he says that in joking and laughing, but, again, our main concern is strength and endurance, and he definitely has that.

"It's fun. We joke around with it. But from Day 1, when we got him up, our first few words spoken were, 'I don't care what your weight is, but I care about strength and endurance to get through the season.'"

Sale gives credit to Thomas for building up that strength and endurance.

"Since the first day I got here, he handed me a medicine ball and said, 'We are going to do some work,'" Sale said. "And that's the thing. He got me to where I had a base.

"Before I came in, I was just skinny. I'm still skinny, but I have strength in my body and I know how to use it and what to do and how it works. Just having a routine, getting in there every day and knowing what I got every day, what's on my plate. It helps, too."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.