Chris Sale made a terrific statement that cause the team to react……. see more

Chris Sale Speaker Information | Wasserman

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Chris Sale had a wide-ranging opinion about the Grapefruit League start he made in the Braves’ 3-2 win over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at CoolToday Park.

“It was terrible, alright and pretty good all at the same time,” Sale said.

A great sense of humor is one of the many things Braves fans should come to like about Sale, who is looking to prove he can again be the dominant pitcher he was before injuries significantly blemished his past four seasons.

Sale has a long way to go, but his first two Spring Training starts have certainly been encouraging. The veteran left-hander used five strikeouts to pitch around three hits and a pair of walks over 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Sunday.

“I want to clean up some of the command things,” Sale said. “It just seemed like it was coming in and out. But on the flip side of that, I felt like when I needed to make pitches, or when my back was against the wall, I was able to do that.”

Sale was also able to get a feel for how much he might be appreciated by his new fanbase. This was the first time he pitched in front of Atlanta’s home crowd since being acquired from the Red Sox on Dec. 30. So, it was certainly nice for him to hear a nice ovation as he walked to the dugout after ending his outing with a strikeout of Garrett Stubbs.

“Just don’t suck and they’ll like you,” Sale said.

See. The man is funny.

But what will truly please Braves fans is Sale’s attempt to prove these first two spring starts were just a sign of things to come. He has recorded nine strikeouts while not allowing a run through his first 4 2/3 innings.

It’s a very small sample size. But the results just validate the value Sale gained from his first normal offseason since the one that followed the 2019 season. No longer worried about his elbow, shoulder or any other part of his body that he’s injured over the past few years, he’s aiming to get back to where he was from 2012-18, when he finished top six in American League Cy Young Award voting in seven straight seasons.

“I want to be what I’m supposed to be for this team and to make all that work in the offseason worth it,” Sale said. “There’s still some work to do. There’s still some things to iron out. But I like where we’re at and the trajectory we’re on.”

The Braves aren’t expecting Sale to compete for a Cy Young Award. But they are hoping he can be a difference maker once the postseason arrives. To create this opportunity, they will need to manage his workload throughout the regular season.

Sale has totaled 151 innings over the past four seasons. He tallied 102 2/3 innings for the Red Sox last year. So how many regular season innings could he complete this year and still have some gas in the tank for October?

The Braves have said they won’t put an innings number on Sale. Instead, they’ll just monitor his progress throughout the season and give him an extra day to rest whenever possible.

Here’s Braves manager Brian Snitker’s take on Sale’s control: “He did a great job. He threw one behind a righty and one behind a lefty. I said, ‘It’s good because you didn’t hit them.’”

While the Braves will manage the workload, Sale will just focus on being the great competitor he has been since reaching the Majors. His competitive spirit was visible on Sunday, when he used a pair of strikeouts to pitch around the hit and walk he issued in both of the first two innings.

Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm singled against a fastball in the first inning and tallied another single against a changeup in the third. Sale got in trouble when he hit Weston Wilson’s foot with a breaking ball and lost control of a pitch that sailed behind Stubbs’ back. But with a pair of runners in scoring position, he battled back from a 2-0 count to end his outing with a strikeout.

“Throughout the season, you’re going to have starts where it’s not there and you’ve got to figure it out on the fly,” Sale said. “That’s kind of the separation between some good days and some really bad days. I was glad I was able to get over some of those humps. It was one of those weird ones I guess.”

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