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Red Sox report: Chris Sale has a plan, but will it work?

Rob Bradford
February 14, 2018 - 10:13 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The theme for Chris Sale's meeting with the media Wednesday morning was easy to decipher.

1. He tried too hard out of the gate in spring training a year ago.

2. He has a plan to ease into the season much more gradually this time around.

The focus is understandable considering how things evolved for Sale last season, when he went 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA from Aug. 1 until the end of the regular season. So, here is how the pitcher sees things looking back and going forward ...

The plan? "That's between myself, Dana [LeVangie], Alex [Cora], [head trainer] Brad [Pearson], [strength and conditioning coordinator] Kiyoshi [Momose]. We're all involved. In the training room. In the weight room. We've all got together and kind of talked about coming up with a formula for longevity and building up. I think last year I came into spring training kind of too amped up, too ready to go, and I think we're kind of looking for more of a  gradual build-up."

Will it work? "I can't say for certain because I haven't really done it, but that's our plan. That's our end goal. Seeing things as a whole instead of in front of you. We're working on something to kind of create longevity and maintain strength throughout the whole year."

Taking it easy in spring training? "I think that's part of it. Kind of like a plane takes off. Kind of that gradual build-up instead of a heavy workload upfront and kind of maintaining that. I'm confident obviously the people I have in my corner, and I'm confident in myself to stay on track. It's kind of weird doing something different than I've ever done. But I have faith and trust in everyone here and in myself to see this process through and make sure we're on the positive side of things."

Did he realize during last season he had come out too hard? "I wouldn't say last year. I think once I got home I kind of reflected on the season. That was kind of when it was like, 'Alright, something needs to change.' I came into spring training a little too prepared. I felt like I had something to prove last year, too. I'm here in a new city with a new team and I felt like I had to prove myself again. I think that kind of came back to bite me in the end. But I'm not going to look back. I can't change it now. That's how we got here now to kind of build up and maintain throughout the whole year."

Was there a moment that he felt fatigue? "I didn't look at a single start that I made last year. So I'm not big on doing all that. But yeah, like I said, we're in the middle of doing something right now to maintain longevity and be able to maintain strength throughout the whole year and be strong. Obviously, I know what we're doing in spring training. I don't know that that's going to entail for the year. But like I said, I have faith and trust in not only myself but in everyone around me to get us where we want to go."

Will it be difficult to accept leaving games a bit earlier? "That’s part of the process. That’s where the trust in each other and the faith in the process as a whole comes into play. [Expletive], I don't like coming out of the game in the eighth inning with 120 pitches. What’s the difference in that? For me it’s trusting, trusting the process, trusting the big picture and knowing if he takes me out after the fifth or sixth inning, he’s not picking on me, he has a job to do too. He’s managing an entire team, not just managing me. He’s doing what’s best for the team and I have 100 percent faith in the coaching staff to get this done."

How will he change in in-game strategy? "I think more so than anything it’s just eliminating waste pitches. I feel like over the course of the year, say you get 105 pitches every time out, you try to eliminate as few as possible. The times you get to the fifth inning and you’re at 103 pitches, you’ve either fouled a lot off, given up a lot of hits or you’ve wasted a lot of pitches. I think maximizes the quality of the pitches that I’m throwing is going to be the key to all this."

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