Chris Sale would like to win the battle and the war this season, and he’s planning accordingly.
In his first media session Wednesday at Boston Red Sox spring training, the veteran left-hander revealed he’s adopting a new conditioning and throwing program for 2018 designed to help him maintain steady success throughout the year.
Sale wouldn’t reveal specifics of the plan but did explain his reasoning for the change.
“That’s between myself, (pitching coach) Dana (LeVangie), (manager) Alex (Cora), (head trainer) Brad (Pearson) and (strength and conditioning coordinator) Kiyoshi (Momose),” Sale told reporters at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. “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.”
Sale got off to a blistering start in 2017, recording 10 or more strikeouts in eight of his first nine outings with Boston and taking a 2.37 ERA through the end of July. The 28-year-old hit a wall down the stretch, though, going 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA over his final 11 starts and scuffling in both of his postseason appearances.
Sale said he decided on the change of approach after reflecting on the season’s disappointing end.
“I felt like I had something to prove last year, too,” he added. “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.”
The Red Sox once again will rely on Sale to be the ace of their pitching staff after what still was a very strong 2017 campaign. But this time around, the six-time All-Star hopes to pitch his best late in the season when Boston needs him most.
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