Chris Sale returns to the mound tonight, but the buzz that accompanied his previous starts will be dampened by curiosity and/or concern.
Thanks to the "mild" shoulder tendinitis that forced him to miss his last start, we have to reset the scene. He'll still carry his scoreless-inning streak (23 2/3) to the mound, but that's no longer the only thing to watch. Will the layoff cause rust to form? Will his radar-gun readings and mechanics look out of whack?
The hope is that Sale answers those questions early. He did what he could to preempt them before Monday's game:
"I threw a bullpen yesterday and actually feel better today than I have any other day leading up to now,'' Sale said Monday before the Sox played the Cubs in the first of two games at U.S. Cellular Field. "Treat it like any other start and go out there and leave it out there.'' [...]
"I know I'm going to come in here and pitch tomorrow however long I might be, that will be up to them,'' he said when asked if he'll be restricted to a pitch count.
"I'm worried about going out there and winning a ball game and not how bad I might be. Yeah, just knocked the rust off the last couple of days and hopefully it was enough.''
Additional fodder for the optimists: Sale has shown no history of being affected by long layoffs, because he's been uniformly excellent coming off excessive rest over his young career as a starter.
So it all comes down to his shoulder. Sale's self-assessments have been pretty sound in the past, and that streak is more important than the zeroes he's been posting.
When it comes to self-assessments, Adam Dunn is a study in contrast. We spent yesterday trying to figure out why an injured Dunn is rushed back into the lineup when he's had enough problems hitting while healthy, so this Scott Merkin article is conveniently timed. It also offers zero comfort:
Despite feeling great since Spring Training, Dunn got off to a miserable start, with his average sitting as low as .133 on May 13. He followed up that rough stretch with six homers and 15 RBIs in the last 12 games. Mixed into that success was an 0-for-17 funk that Dunn broke with a two-run homer in Sunday's 5-3 victory over the Marlins.
Dunn has battled back soreness since leaving a game against the Angels on May 18, and he said Monday that the problem is not great, but not terrible. He's looking to get into another hot streak to offset the problems caused by the back that interrupted a pretty good run.
Back in January, Hector Santiago made a visit to Newtown, Conn., after the Sandy Hook massacre. This week, even with the regular season in full swing and Santiago taking on every pitching task imaginable, he's still doing what he can to offer personal assistance to victims of tragedy.
White Sox pitcher Hector Santiago has provided assistance for one of the tornado victims in Oklahoma, after his agent, Brian McCafferty, got in touch with a local church who made him aware of a family that lost everything in the tornado. The daughter in this family was going to postpone her arrival at college, but Santiago sent the family money to purchase college supplies so the daughter could start on time. [...]
"We just kind of went out, and I was like, 'Hey, even if it's one family or two families, kids, anything,'" Santiago said. "We called, and the church was just like, 'Hey, this family lost everything, cars, clothes, all the stuff for her.'
"They kind of picked it. It was like, 'Hey, this is the best one right now that you can help out and make an impact right away.'"
This is a very strange headline and a very strange article. It's not that it's wrong, but the hook feels manufactured -- especially since it isn't a column. I mean, Jeff Samardzija may not be comparable to Sale for a number of reasons, but he's a good pitcher having a nice season. They both can and do exist independently of one another.
Maybe it was written for somebody in particular? It has that feel, anyway, because the argument is impassioned enough that I kinda expected the last line to read, "So shove a sock in it, Neil."
(UPDATE: As you'll see below, Yinka Double Dare points out that it's a response to this pro-Samardzija piece. It's the ol' point-counterpoint ... without any reference to a counterpoint.)
- KC and the little things - Joe Posnanski
- Why Ned Yost tries to stay positive through Royals’ struggles - KansasCity.com
The Royals are 21-27 after losing six games in a row, and that's not what Dayton Moore and Ned Yost had in mind when they traded for James Shields to win now. What's fascinating is that this supposed shift into contenderdom apparently hasn't changed what management values, which puts them on track to make the same mistakes they always make.