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Monday, May 2, 2011
Sale's struggles have White Sox worried

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale continued to struggle on Monday, leaving the Chicago White Sox wondering about their options with the young left-hander.

The White Sox are willing to let Sale figure things out for only so long, although their options on what to do remain limited.

Sale entered in the ninth inning of Monday's 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles with a six-run lead. After getting two quick outs, he hit Nick Markakis with a pitch, gave up a two-run home run to Derrek Lee, allowed a single to Vladimir Guerrero and then walked Luke Scott.

It seemed like manager Ozzie Guillen was on his way to the mound to make a pitching change before the fourth wide one to Scott was even across the plate.

“I’m worried about it,” Guillen said. “I think his mechanics... I don’t know if you can call it mechanics, he’s all over the place. He’s out of control. He doesn’t throw strikes. In the big leagues, you can throw 89-98 [mph], but if you don’t throw strikes, you’re going to get in trouble. Hopefully he figures out soon because the last couple outings he can’t find the plate.”

After a dominating two months last season, Sale now has a 7.15 ERA just over a month into the season.

With Sergio Santos apparently entrenched as the closer (he relieved Sale on Monday and recorded his third save) a left-hander could be expendable. The White Sox probably don’t need three left-handed relievers if one isn’t closing. The problem is that Will Ohman's success typically comes as a lefty specialist, while the third lefty, Matt Thornton, is also struggling and getting no help from the defense.

If the White Sox did elect to send Sale back to Triple-A to find his mechanics, there are options, but they are all right-handed. Relievers Brian Bruney and John Kinney have each pitched in nine games at Triple-A Charlotte without being scored upon. Gregory Infante has also recorded nine scoreless outings at Double-A Birmingham.

“I think people in the big leagues survive if they throw strikes more than when they throw hard, and they have to learn that,” Guillen said.