White Sox ace Chris Sale worked on his pitches, picked off a runner, fielded his position and got everything else he wanted to get out of his "B" game performance on Monday in Glendale, Ariz., but the left-hander is clearly ready for the real deal.
After pitching 4 1/3 innings against a Dodgers squad made up mostly of farmhands, and allowing two earned runs on four hits, Sale is definitely looking forward to his next outing. That will likely come in an official Cactus League game on Saturday vs. the Dodgers.
"I think it's time to get out to the big field and start playing with the grownups -- no offense to anybody," Sale said with a laugh on Monday. "There's something to be said for fans being there, being in a big stadium, hearing the noise, the music between innings."
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Sale threw 75 pitches in his outing, 46 for strikes, and last season's American League strikeout leader knocked out four K's, as well. He allowed a walk and a sinking liner to Yasmani Grandal to finish off the outing with one out in the fifth.
"He looked free and easy throwing it," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think he's still going through trying to throw all of his pitches. I don't think his slider plays as well here in Arizona. But he got his work in."
And that's what it's about right now -- getting Sale ready to take the ball as the presumptive Opening Day starter and then every fifth day through the 2016 season.
"Keeping him healthy and getting him to that first start is the point of all this," Ventura said.
That's all good with Sale. He'd just as soon get into a more public venue to get his work in going forward this spring, but he was pleased with the progress he made Monday on a back field in front of a handful of fans, coaches and players.
"Command was a little off, but that's kind of expected, getting out there first time in a game against someone in a different uniform," Sale said. "It was nice. We did what we needed to do."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.