High pitch counts are goal, not issue, for Sale

High pitch counts are goal, not issue, for Sale

CHICAGO -- In Chris Sale's past two starts, the White Sox ace hurler has thrown a respective 115 and 116 pitches. It is the sort of workload that causes some outside consternation after Sale's strained flexor muscle in his left arm cost him five weeks out of action earlier this season.

But that's the sort of workload Sale says he needs in his return to regular work at the top of the White Sox rotation.

"It has been a while since, 'The Incident,' if you will," Sale said after Thursday's seven-inning effort against the Tigers, referring to the injury that sent him to his first career stint on the disabled list. "I'm trying to build arm strength, and that's how you build it.

"I'm not going to go out and build arm strength and get into a rhythm throwing 90 pitches every time out. I want to be out there for that. I need to be that guy to go 115-120 pitches. That's what I'm signed up for."

Factoring into Sale's performance against the Tigers was that he threw an easy, comfortable 116 pitches, without having any big trouble spot. His only run allowed came on a Victor Martinez homer.

Manager Robin Ventura acknowledged that Sale's level of effort would play a role in the decision, adding that Sale had struggled in some starts in which he threw only 90 pitches.

"Last night wasn't one of those," Ventura said of Sale, who has a 1.62 ERA over his past six starts. "He was throwing it free and easy and felt strong the whole time. When it's at that point, it's his game; you can let him have it. But I wasn't sending him back out there for the eighth or ninth."

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