Sale's stuff strong in win over Dodgers

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
7:57
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale was dominant throughout his second to last spring start, pitching six strong innings against the Dodgers on Thursday. Sale struck out seven Dodgers hitters without allowing a walk. Superstar Matt Kemp struck out swinging in all three at bats against the Sox’s southpaw.

“He was making a lot of people not have very good at bats today,” manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s the thing you notice more than anything.”

Sale is set to pitch the season’s fourth game against Cleveland on April 9 at Progressive Field.

“ I’m confident in myself getting deep in games,” Sale said. “I’m not worried about the innings right now maybe down the road when the innings pile up I will.”

Like many No. 1 draft picks, the Sox may limit Sale’s first season as a starter to around 150 innings .

Sale threw 86 pitches on Thursday, the team is likely to back him off of his pitch count in his final tune-up in Houston next Tuesday.

Thornton leading in the closer derby?

Lefthander Matt Thornton may have already won the closer’s role to begin the season. Thornton was used by Manager Robin Venture to finish Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Dodgers.

The eight-year veteran, for his part, is fine with any role.

“They can tell me Opening Day,” Thornton said. “It doesn’t matter to me, but they will figure that out soon enough.”

Thornton, who had two strikeouts in one inning of work Thursday, has been in competition rookie Addison Reed and Jesse Crain for the job.

“I’m happy with all of them, we are just putting them in to get their innings and get their work but none of that means anything (about) where they are at today,” Ventura said. “At this point we have not totally concluded how we are going to do it.”

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.317 36 107 80
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208