MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Chris Sale figured he probably had to win some games for his new team before the knowledgeable and passionate Red Sox fans treated him like one of their own. It turns out he was wrong.
The lefty has spent the last two days at the team's annual Winter Weekend convention at Foxwoods somewhat amazed by the most enthusiastic welcome wagon he's ever seen.
"You're kind of blown away," said Sale. "This is my first time being able to interact with the new fans and this fanbase. For that to be my first impression, it's incredible."
It started Friday night when Sale was announced to an audience before the team's Town Hall event. And it continued all of Saturday, as he was given a pat on the back or a handshake with just about every step he took.
"They've got a lot of fans," said Sale. "It's great. It's a passion. You can feel it. Taking pictures with people today, signing autographs, you see how happy they are and how energetic they are about sports and about this team. You can't help but to feed off that and to just have a certain energy going into the season with all that happening and being around you. It makes me a little bit more comfortable about the transition."
Sale's trip to Winter Weekend marked his first public appearance for the Red Sox, the team that acquired him for the White Sox in a blockbuster deal six weeks ago.
The winter has been exciting for the five-time All-Star for reasons beyond the trade. His wife, Brianne, gave birth to Brayson, the couple's second son, on Dec. 14.
"It's been great," Sale said. "He's not sleeping the best, but hey, you take it. It's a blessing. We're very excited. We've got two boys, so life is good."
The beauty of the timing of the trade and the subsequent arrival of second child for Sale is that this marks the first time of his career he doesn't have to travel for Spring Training. The Red Sox train roughly 30 minutes north of Sale's home in Naples, Fla.
"I've been working out at the same place I always have in Naples, doing Pilates and stuff," said Sale. "I've been up to JetBlue Park a couple weeks ago just to work out a little bit, see the guys, meet some people, try to get acclimated, be a little bit more comfortable, and I think I'm going to go back up there when I get back to Florida. It's exciting. It's nice to be able to go to the Spring Training complex and go to my house in the same day."
Once Spring Training starts, there will be a lot of chatter about a team with three aces and speculation over who will start on Opening Day.
Clearly, Sale isn't expecting that honor.
"No one's said anything to us. If I had to pick -- and my opinion means absolutely nothing -- out of respect, you've got to go with [Rick] Porcello," Sale said. "He was the best pitcher in the league last year. How do you deny that? But whichever it falls, it doesn't matter. We're all here for the same goal and that's winning ballgames."
David Price echoed a similar sentiment at a panel that included Porcello earlier in the day.
"I think moreso than anything, it's going to push each individual on the staff to kind of raise the bar and keep it up when it's going good, and if you hit a rough patch, someone else can stop it," Sale said. "On paper, we're looking good. [Now] it's about going out and doing it."
And Sale will relish the challenge of living up to the expectations. He was asked what Red Sox fans are going to learn about him.
"I don't think that's a question for me to answer. If anything, maybe just competing," Sale said. "For me, the only thing I can really tell them is every time I'm out there, it's going to be all I've got -- every time, no matter what. I can promise you that."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.