Chris Sale, Jesse Crain different-track Stars
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 16, 2013 10:40PM
Updated: July 17, 2013 12:16PM
NEW YORK — Two pitchers shared the All-Star experience Tuesday night, each on drastically different tracks of their White Sox careers.
Chris Sale is a left-handed starter. Jesse Crain is a right-handed reliever.
Crain is a 32-year-old first-time All-Star who didn’t pitch because of a sore shoulder. Sale, the winning pitcher who probably would’ve been named MVP if not for Mariano Rivera taking it with the sentimental vote, is a 24-year-old who shined on baseball’s big stage for a second straight year.
Sale figures to be with the Sox a long time.
Crain could be gone before the end of the month.
Sale, who retired all six National League All-Stars he faced and made it look easy in the American League’s 3-0 victory, is a budding face of the franchise, the heir apparent to Paul Konerko. While some have suggested Sox general manager Rick Hahn should consider trading Sale if another team knocks his socks off for the right package of players that would add needed depth to his every-day roster and/or farm system, Sale’s appearance at Citi Field underscores why Hahn shouldn’t and most likely won’t.
Sale is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. And he’s young, and his five-year, $32.5 million contract with club options for two more years is a splendid deal for the Sox.
The 2013 Sox are full of bad. They’re not about to discard the one thing they couldn’t wait to show off to the baseball world Tuesday night.
“It’s great he gets to pitch and that it lined up for him that he threw on Thursday,’’ Sox manager Robin Ventura, an AL coach, said before the game. “For people to see him on a national stage with all this talent, he gets to go out there and show what he’s got.’’
Pitching on four days of rest, Sale pitched the second and third innings, highlighting an easy-does-it 24-pitch outing (17 strikes) with swinging strikeouts of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Sale’s strikeout pitch on both was a nasty slider.
“I was just as nervous [as last season],’’ Sale said. ‘‘What an experience for me. I was very fortunate to throw strikes and fill up the zone.’’
“[Sale’s] stuff is unbelievable this year,’’ Crain said. “I don’t know if last year, his first year starting, he was taking it easy, maybe not wanting to blow out too early. To see the way he’s throwing in the mid-90s, almost like he did in the bullpen . . . it’s impressive to see.’’
Sale (6-8, 2.85 ERA) is in his third year in the majors. Things are moving fast for him.
“He’s learning,’’ Crain said. “He’s had tough luck [see won-lost record] with the lack of run production, but that’s part of growing as a pitcher. You get better from going through hard times, and that’s when you grow the most.’’
Growing into a ‘‘face of the franchise’’ type is heady stuff, but Sale has the goods: He’s a young, devoted family guy, he’s fast developing into a hard-nosed leader type and he’s the kind of player and character Brooks Boyer can build a marketing scheme around.
“It’s an honor [to be seen in that light] with the guys we’ve had there in the past,’’ Sale said. “With Paulie, who is our captain in an age when there are no captains except for him and Derek Jeter. . . . When it comes up, I’ll talk to people about handling it the right way.’’