In his first start since signing the five-year, $32.5 million contract extension, Chris Sale went out and had the easiest five innings by any White Sox starter this spring in their 3-1 victory over Colorado on Monday afternoon. He faced the minimum through the first five, erasing a single with a 5-4-3 double play.
He only encountered his first real turbulence over the last two batters he faced. He didn't get a fastball in enough on a fastball-sitting Yorvit Torrealba, who launched it to left for a solo shot. Tyler Colvin reached on an infield single, and Sale was done for the day ... until he went to the bullpen to throw 15 more pitches, anyway.
Sale didn't walk anybody, and he struck out three -- including left-handed Todd Helton on a changeup you can see in the video below:
He remains on track to be the Opening Day starter, but Robin Ventura remains mum on the subject, because that's what he does.
*Jared Mitchell had a nice day in left, making two rangy catches along the warning track, going back to both sides. But perhaps his best play was one he didn't make.
In the seventh inning, Michael Cuddyer hit a deep drive to left off Erik Johnson and had Mitchell committed to the play, he might've been able to make a catch against the wall. Instead, he pulled up short and let collected the carom off the wall for a double.
It would've been interesting to see his athleticism on display, but the last time he tried to make such a play in spring training, this was the result:
A torn ankle tendon set back his career a couple years, and nobody can say it's a one-off event, given that Brandon Short dislocated his left shoulder and tore his labrum running into the wall last spring.
Of course, this is not to assume that he pulled up on purpose. It's entirely possible that he pulled up because that's how he read the play. Either way, I held my breath when he started going back to the wall with full strides, and was relieved when he avoided a second run-in with the wall. It's not a play he needed to make, and the double didn't have any ramifications. Johnson recorded the third out to escape unscathed, and Mitchell survived the second round of cuts.
*Since we're talking about Triple-A outfielders again, Jordan Danks' spring misery continued unimpeded, at least at the plate. Like Mitchell, he made a fine running catch going back in center field, so there's that.
When it comes to offense production, nothing is going his way. He went 0-for-3, striking out twice and grounding into a double play in between. He did draw a walk, and he even tacked on a stolen base, but that journey around the basepaths ended with Torrealba picked him off third to take the Sox out of a sac fly situation.
"There have been days, at-bats where he's had it,'' said hitting coach Jeff Manto, who suggested the leg kick. "There are some pitches where he hasn't had it. The good part is when he doesn't do it, he recognizes it. It's going to take some time.
"It's a situation where once he's aware of it and consistently does it, it's going to work out well, and he knows it." [...]
"I'm working on it," Viciedo said. "One of the most challenging things is the timing. At the same time, I'm working on it and want to keep my swing the same way. It's a little challenging, but I'm making some strides."