Chris Sale, pictured earlier this spring, made his debut on Monday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Chris Sale’s first Red Sox start is in the books. You may now commence forgetting everything about it or that it even happened.
Sale wasn’t exactly pleased with his spring training debut against the Astros on Monday. Expected to throw three innings, he instead departed after two on a windy day. He allowed four hits and two runs (1 earned), while throwing 37 pitches and 26 strikes.
“Happy? I don’t know,” Sale said. “We got some good work in. I’m not a fan of sitting here and saying spring training doesn’t matter. You still want to get results, but I felt good. The ball felt great coming out of my hand. Felt strong throughout. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. That was a step in the right direction.”
“I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” Sale added. “It’s tough just sitting around just doing practice and things like that. This is why we’re here. We like going out there and playing the game. Especially as a starting pitcher. I have enough downtime. It was fun. I enjoy doing what I do and I love pitching. Today was fun to get out there and get the ball rolling.”
Sale was clocked as high as 97 mph, though the stadium radar gun is said to run a couple of mph fast.
The Astros struck quickly when Sam Travis dropped George Springer’s leadoff pop-up behind first base in swirling winds. A double, pop-up, and Evan Gattis sacrifice fly plated Chicago’s first run before Josh Reddick grounded out to end the frame.
“Even right out of the gate, you’ve got second and third and nobody out,” Sale said. “Those are good situations to be in. It’s going to happen sometime throughout the year. It’s nice to be able to get into those scenarios and try to work your way out of them. Obviously I didn’t. It’s nice to get out there — the whole being comfortable with being uncomfortable type of thing. You’ve got to work on that, too.”
Sale struck out two in the second, but a series of bloop singles plate a second run. He struck out Marwin Gonzalez looking at an offspeed pitch to end his afternoon.
” I feel fine,” Sale said. “The first few days maybe you’re shaking off the cobwebs and kicking off the dust. With the players, with the staff, with everyone involved, they’ve made me feel right at home here. And I am.”
Sale wanted to pitch longer.
“I understand why,” he said. “I racked up a pretty good amount of pitches, which is another thing I’d like to get down. I’d like to go out there for maybe 13 to 15. That’s the range as a starter you like to get. It gives you a chance to finish the game and save the bullpen. This is the first time out. It is what it is. We’ll take it for what it is and we’ll roll with it. We’ll try to be better the next time out. If I had gone out there and thrown two perfect innings, I’m still going to try to get better from that. I’ve got some things to work on and a week to get ready.”