CLEVELAND -- Since the start of Spring Training, Chris Sale has held a middle-of-the-road stance in regard to his future pitching role.
Basically, the young southpaw would be happy starting, closing, working in a setup role or even logging innings in middle relief. But when pressed for a choice during an interview prior to Wednesday's contest at Progressive Field, a smiling Sale paused for a few moments and then came up with starting as his desired role in 2012.
"Obviously, I would like starting. I grew up, ever since I've been pitching, I've been a starter since summer ball, college, everything," said Sale, who nervously laughed when making his choice, despite staying relatively non-committal. "If the last choice came to me, I'd like to start.
"But at the end of the day, I have nothing to complain about so far. It's not like I'm unhappy with the role I'm in. By no means is it anything like that. I'd like to get an opportunity to start and if it happens, awesome. If not, I'm still lucky to be where I am."
The White Sox certainly are happy with where Sale, 22, currently resides. After a slow start, he has been so dominant in a left-handed setup role that manager Ozzie Guillen has used him as a closer in picking up seven saves.
Sale has produced a 1.37 ERA over his last 52 2/3 innings covering 38 games, striking out 56, and lowering his ERA from 6.48 to 2.63. But pitching coach Don Cooper already has talked about how interesting it would be to see Sale in charge of 100 pitches per outing as opposed to 25 or 30, and general manager Ken Williams always has stated that he intended to make the team's top pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft part of the rotation.
A move to starter would lead Sale to throw a little more during the upcoming offseason, allowing him to get into an earlier groove in Spring Training. But it's not a decision he needs to hear any time soon.
Even if he departs the relief world, it has been time well spent for Sale.
"It's not easy," Sale said. "The main thing is getting into late-inning jams. Next year, if I'm starting, being in the seventh and there's a guy at second or third, I've been in that situation before and I've done it before and should be able to do it again.
"If I'm going to go back to starting, I'm going to have to get sharper with all my pitches. It's not just going out there and doing it for one inning. You have to go out over and over again and just work on things, especially fastball command to both sides of the plate and out and down, and the same thing with my changeup."