Red Sox limit Sale's spring workload, aiming for endurance
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Boston ace Chris Sale is scheduled to start an intrasquad game on Sunday and could have five spring training outings before the Red Sox opener.
The extra spring training rest is by design. Sale was 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA last year and led the major leagues with 214 1/3 innings and 308 strikeouts.
He tailed off at the end of the season, going 7-4 with a 4.09 ERA. That's been his pattern: He is 59-22 with a 2.74 ERA in 133 first-half starts during eight big league seasons and 32-36 with a 3.28 ERA in 127 second-half starts.
"We've kind of gotten together a couple of times and talked about different things and different schedules to kind of build up through spring training," Sale said.
New manager Alex Cora, pitching coach Dana LeVangie and the training staff have conferred on the plan.
"We're all involved in the training room, in the weight room," Sale said. "We've all got together and 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 buildup."
Sale, who turns 29 on March 30, hopes this new approach will keep him strong throughout the season.
"I can't say for certain because I haven't really done it," he said. "But that's the plan, that's our end goal seeing things as a whole instead of so kind of in front of you. We're working on something to create longevity and maintain strength throughout the whole year."
Sale hopes limited work in spring training will translate into longer outings later in the season.
"I think that's part of it," Sale said. "Kind of like a plane takes off, kind of that gradual buildup instead of just a heavy workload up front, and just maintaining that. I'm confident, obviously, in the people I have in my corner and I'm confident in myself to be able to stay on track. It's kind of weird doing something different, that I've never done, but like I said, I have faith and trust in everyone here and in myself to see this process through and make sure that we're on the positive side of things."
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Updated March 2, 2018