White Sox pitcher Chris Sale to try new stuff in his first spring outing
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com February 28, 2013 11:42PM
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:39PM
PHOENIX — White Sox left-hander Chris Sale will experiment with some new wrinkles, such as throwing changeups to lefties, when he pitches in a spring game for the first time Friday.
Sale’s primary focus when he pitches against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, Ariz., will be locating his fastball, however. As good as his slider is, that’s where it all begins and ends for Sale.
“My main focus for this year or any year is fastball command, being able to throw the fastball to both sides of the plate, up and down, in and out,’’ Sale said Thursday.
“And then secondary pitches and throwing changeups to lefties and stuff like that.’’
Before this year, Sale said he never has thrown a changeup to a lefty. His fastball and slider always have been enough, but it can’t hurt to give them something else to think about.
While some teams have used their rotation starters from the first day on the Cactus League schedule, the Sox have waited till the seventh game because of the early start this year. Sale is eager to pitch in a game.
“Anytime you’re in a game situation, you’re going to get something out of it,’’ he said. “I’m going to compete like any other time on the mound.
“I’ll be mixing some things in but mostly working on throwing strikes and getting command of the zone.’’
Morel auditions at SS
Brent Morel repeated that his goal is to win the starting job at third base. If not, being able to play shortstop — where he played three innings Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers — could help him make the team as a backup.
“If they want me to play other positions and that’s going to get me to break camp on that 25-man roster, then I’ll do anything,’’ Morel said.
Morel got his glove on one ball, a grounder by leadoff man Jean Segura deep behind second base that he wasn’t going to make a play on anyway.
He hasn’t had a lot of work at short, but he said playing there in college and some in the minors makes it a fairly smooth transition from third.
It helps that his back, which sidelined him most of last season, is not hindering him this spring.
“It feels great,’’ he said. “It’s nice to feel it myself, but then to see the feedback from all the coaches and teammates. It’s nice to hear that feedback and nice to know all that work in the offseason is paying off.”
Said manager Robin Ventura: “With all the guys competing for jobs, it’s good to be able to have a little versatility like that.’’
Jeff Keppinger, who batted third as the designated hitter, will play third base for the first time Saturday, Ventura said. Keppinger said his right shoulder is feeling better.
◆ Reliever Nate Jones was supposed to pitch but went to be with his wife, who delivered the couple’s first child, a girl.