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Sale 'wild' in outing

Boston Herald
March 19. 2018 10:40PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Chris Sale wasn’t happy with himself on Monday afternoon.

What would’ve likely been just a mildly disappointing spring training outing to most pitchers was a historic disaster to last year’s American League Cy Young Award runner-up.

In five innings of work against a Philadelphia Phillies lineup full of regulars he issued — gasp — three walks.

He also plunked two batters, gave up five hits and let four runs cross the plate, including three on a massive home run by Aaron Altherr. He struck out six. But the walks are what really angered him.

For context: Sale has been appearing in spring training games since 2011. He has never walked three batters in a spring training game.

Until Monday, he hadn’t walked three batters in an entire spring since 2013, when he walked four batters over five starts spanning 23- 1/3 innings.

“One thing that really (ticks) me off is command,” he said. “Walking guys, hitting guys with breaking balls. That kind of stuff can’t happen. Little stupid stuff that gets in the way. Those are the things that kill you. Walks and hit by pitches. At least when they’re hitting the ball, they’re earning it. You never know if you walk them.

“Command, that is the thing that gets me the most.”

Sale was also miffed by his signature slider, a pitch that opponents hit just .181 off last year. He left a hanger to Altherr on the home run, a mammoth shot that cleared the faux Green Monster at JetBlue Park in what seemed like an instant.

Asked if he threw a good pitch, Sale said, “They usually don’t hit the good ones that well. So yeah, it was not the best.”

His slider felt off.

“Breaking ball just didn’t have bite today,” he said. “Wasn’t sharp. Even my changeup, threw a couple good ones and yanked a couple of them. Just have to get consistent with it. Get a rhythm. I don’t think I threw any good breaking balls today.”

Told that he collected one strikeout on a breaking ball, Sale scoffed and said, “It was right down the middle.” Then he walked away.

The always well-mannered and friendly staff ace maintained his professional presence after his outing, but he made it clear that with 10 days before Opening Day, which he’s on schedule to start even though it hasn’t been announced, he has work to do.

“You’re going to have days like that you’re going to have to find a way to get through it,” Sale said. “It’s better to have those days down here and work out the kinks and get better from that.

“I’m sure we’ll address it the next couple days. Figure some stuff out. Obviously I know when you yank a changeup what the deal is. Obviously you want to get better and right that ship.”

Sale has a 3.21 ERA in three Grapefruit League starts.

Daughter on mend, Kimbrel returns

Grateful that his infant daughter Lydia is on the mend after heart surgery in Boston, closer Craig Kimbrel returned to the Red Sox on Monday.

“We’ll be in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital the rest of her life but for this stay, hopefully a couple more weeks,” said Kimbrel after throwing a sharp round of batting practice to minor-leaguers on a back field. “She’s in the recovery process but life-threatening wise, she’s in a good place that I can be down here. It’s really just taking care of her needs and getting her off some of her meds and getting her back feeding out of the bottle and that’s what the next few weeks are looking for us at the hospital.”

Kimbrel thanked the medical team at Boston Children’s Hospital as well as everyone at the Red Sox and elsewhere who showed their support to him and his wife Ashley during their trying time.

“I can’t say enough about how amazing Boston Children’s Hospital has been. The nurses, the doctors, they’ve been absolutely amazing in helping us through this process and helping more with me and Ashley, because we know Lydia is taken care of — they’ve been absolutely amazing,” said Kimbrel. “She’s, in the last week, her recovery has been unbelievable and she’s showing great signs and we’re very blessed and we want to thank the Red Sox and Alex for understanding they’ve been through this and working with us. It’s been tough, I can say that. We’re definitely, me and my wife, we’ve had each other and we’ve had our family, we’ve had a great support. Everyone is sending out prayers that have definitely been heard. Now I’m back down here.”

Kimbrel was able to use indoor facilities at Babson College in order to throw and train as well as find an escape valve from the pressures of waiting.

“I just got done throwing a live BP and I’d say I’m ready to go,” said Kimbrel. “I’ll get in a few games this week. I think it’s just kind of getting my feet under me, getting my foot in the clay. I’ve been throwing a lot indoors, and a lot off a mound. So getting my foot on a mound and getting my cleats wet in that nice clay is definitely something that in this week I put my work into.”

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