Sale: White Sox going in positive direction

Ace says Renteria the right person to guide young club

Sale: White Sox going in positive direction

BOSTON -- Prior to Thursday's series opener between the White Sox and Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston ace Chris Sale made his way toward left field to talk with some of the White Sox pitchers as they began to stretch.

Sale was traded from the White Sox to Boston this past December as part of a five-player deal sending Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech back to Chicago. But there still should be some recognizable faces among that White Sox group with Sale being gone less than one season.

Of course that hypothesis doesn't factor in the rebuild and the wholesale changes through trade made by White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.

"It's different but it's baseball. That's how it works," said Sale, speaking with the Chicago media after his pregame work. "They know the direction they are going.

"They could be pretty darn good here in a few years. I've said it before, I think with [White Sox manager] Ricky [Renteria] leading the way, he's got a great presence over there. Obviously talking with a few of the guys stuff like that, they said he's really set a tone over there. It's good to see. It's good to hear about."

While the White Sox go in the direction of building a critical mass for future sustained success, Sale has his sights set on his first career playoff appearance let alone reaching the World Series with Boston. The six-time All-Star certainly has done his part.

Through 22 starts, the 28-year-old leads the Majors with 216 strikeouts against a mere 28 walks over 153 1/3 innings. Sale stands on pace to top 300 strikeouts, while also emerging as the front-runner for the American League Cy Young Award with a 13-4 mark, 2.70 ERA, .198 average against and an AL-best 0.91 WHIP.

Individual statistics never mattered to Sale, and if possible, they matter less this season with his team starting Friday two games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. If Sale had to leave the only baseball home he ever knew, Boston seems like the perfect landing place.

"I'm definitely appreciative of it," Sale said. "This is a perennial team to go to the playoffs and have realistic goals of winning the World Series. The history not only with this team but in this ballpark … pitching here is as fun as any place in baseball. I even said that when I was with Chicago, that I loved it down here.

"The fans here have embraced me and made me feel welcome. I'm enjoying it so far."

A Red Sox rainout on Wednesday pushed Sale out of a Sunday start against the White Sox. He allowed five earned runs over five innings while striking out nine in a victory over Jose Quintana and the White Sox back on May 30 in Chicago.

That White Sox lineup looks a little different now, with even Quintana pitching for the Cubs. But Sale still would have liked the challenge.

"I would have liked to pitch against them, but that's how it works," Sale said. "It's always fun facing your friends and stuff like that."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. 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.