Manager Robin Ventura, not one to make early spring media announcements, will probably slow play his hand before deciding between Sale and veteran Jake Peavy.
“That is an honor,” Sale said. “I was like a kid in a candy shop the last couple of opening days. To actually be playing, that would mean the world to me.”
Sale already has the blessing of Peavy, who said that the pitcher with the best stuff should get the opening day start and that it should be Sale on the mound April 1.
Sale, who will turn 25 in late March, won 17 ballgames in 2012, his first year in the Sox rotation. The first time All-Star was certainly the team’s most clutch starter, going 11-3 after White Sox losses last season.
Different from Washington’s decision to end young starter Steven Strasburg's season early, the Sox decided to rest Sale twice last year (he missed two starts) rather than shut him down after a certain amount of innings pitched. That formula worked well for both the player and club. The organization came up with a tough training program for Sale after he incurred elbow soreness last May.
“To be looked at as just another guy or starter is big for me,” Sale said. “I think that is what everyone expects now, for me not to have to take breaks or sit out a couple games. Now I can just get after it.”
Though a little rusty, Sale was his usual effective self on Friday. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out three Indians hitters in his 2 1/3 innings of work.
“This was a good building block,” Sale said. “I am very satisfied with how it went. This is a good Day 1 out on the mound. I will build and learn from this.”
The plan on Friday was to have Sale throw 45 to 50 pitches or three innings.
“We had something mapped out to begin with,” he said. “I thought they were going to take me out after the first (erratic inning). That would have been kind of a bummer.”