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Chris Sale might not be stuck in White Sox' bullpen

Chicago White Sox v ClevelIndians

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians

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Updated: June 11, 2012 9:20AM



CLEVELAND — Left-hander Chris Sale’s move from the starting rotation to the bullpen may only be temporary, he and pitching coach Don Cooper said Tuesday.

Sale, who was named the White Sox’ closer Friday because he had been experiencing discomfort in his left elbow — raising concerns about the rigors of starting on his arm — still wants badly to start.

And he might get another shot this season, even though manager Robin Ventura had said his move to the bullpen would be for the rest of the season.

“Never say never,’’ Cooper told the Sun-Times when asked if Sale’s move to the pen is permanent this season. “For this moment, right now, he’s in the bullpen.’’

Sale’s closer status looked somewhat iffy because he came in for John Danks in the eighth inning, not the ninth, of the Sox’ 5-3 victory in 10 innings. There were two runners on and no outs with the Sox leading 3-0.

“At that point, he’s the guy for me in those matchups,’’ Ventura said, adding that using Sale for two innings wasn’t out of the question.

Sale was charged with the tying run, which was unearned.

Alex Rios tripled in the go-ahead run against Indians closer Chris Perez — whom Rios had exchanged heated words with at the end of an Indians victory at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday — and scored the fifth run on Alexei Ramirez’s grounder to second baseman Jason Kipnis.

Sale said his arm feels great and that the subject of starting again is on the burner.

“No, absolutely not,’’ Sale said when asked if he had ruled out starting this season. “Starting is something I hope I can get back into. We’ve been kind of talking back and forth. There’s a possibility of it. Not ruling it out is the best way to say it.’’

It was thought that Cooper and former manager Ozzie Guillen were against making Sale a starter when plans for this season were discussed last year. Cooper said that wasn’t true in his case.

“No, no, I was never adamantly against it,’’ Cooper said. “All I knew is we had one of the best lefty relievers right there. And like I said from the beginning, as an organization, we decided to do this undertaking. And I was all in. I was looking forward to getting him over the hump and making him a starter, and we were proceeding accordingly. I want what my guys want. He wants to start. I want him to start.’’

As of now, Sale is being “held back,’’ Cooper said. “We’re going to continue to watch it. Who knows what we may do? Right now, we just kind of backed off him a little bit. In effect, we’ve missed a start. He’s feeling great right now.’’

Cooper compared Sale to Neftali Feliz, the Rangers’ former closer who made the transition to starter this season but was pushed back a couple of days last week.

“That was part of our plan here, and we were following that plan,’’ Cooper said. “For now, we said this is the time to back off.’’

Should Sale (3-1, 2.81 as a starter) return to the rotation, rookie right-hander Addison Reed appears more than capable of filling the closer’s role. Reed (0.00 ERA) pitched a perfect 10th, striking out Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner, for his second save.

Hector Santiago pitched the ninth for his first win.

Cooper dismissed the notion that Sale’s mechanics aren’t suited for the rigors of starting.

“No, no, no, there were no concerns about that,’’ Cooper said.

“If you don’t have a good delivery, you can’t throw strikes. And Chris Sale is a strike-throwing machine. He has a good delivery.’’

And can he start?

“Right now, he’s in the pen,’’ Cooper said, ‘‘and we’ll continue to watch him. And who knows what we do?’’



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