Spring Training 2012: Can Chris Sale Survive in Chicago White Sox Rotation?

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Spring Training 2012: Can Chris Sale Survive in Chicago White Sox Rotation?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chris Sale took some hard hits on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels. Albert Pujols hit a three-run home run off Sale in his first at-bat.

Sale struggled through his second start in Cactus League action for the White Sox, allowing five runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings. He has now allowed eight runs in 7.1 innings in his first two spring training starts.

As Sale prepares to enter the Chicago White Sox starting rotation, he looks like his spot might already be in danger during spring training.

Sale, who is moving from the White Sox bullpen to starting rotation, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he's disappointed in his start to spring training, reciting his run total and saying, "That's unacceptable on every level. I don't care who you are."

Already, the White Sox are said to be questioning Sale's ability to make it as a starter. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted during the White Sox win, "I stick to the fact that a member of the [White Sox] organization told me Sale would be back in the bullpen by May."

This is an early predilection, to be sure. Sale has only pitched two spring training starts. He has yet to start a regular season game.

Sale might be able to shake off the rust as spring training goes along. By the time the regular season starts, he could be in solid form again.

Observers shouldn't look at Sale like any reliever trying to make it as a starter. Sale, who saw his first full year of major-league ball in 2011, was a starter in college and in the minors. In 2010, he pitched 136.2 innings across Florida Gulf Coast University, Single-A Winston-Salem and the White Sox.

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His 71 innings in relief last season was only a tune-up. Sale succeeded in that role, posting a 2.79 ERA and striking out 79 batters.

The next step for Sale is to try to make it as a starter.

He has plenty of time to make the White Sox organization believe in his ability to develop into a capable starter. At that, Sale might even become a White Sox ace (which makes him a No. 2 starter on the top 10 rotations), telling by how proficiently he struck out batters last year and in 2010 (32 strikeouts in 23.1 innings).

The White Sox would do well to remain patient to see how Sale does as the year goes along.

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