CHICAGO -- When White Sox left-hander Chris Sale presented his return to the rotation case to Ken Williams back in early May, he argued with the same fire and conviction that he takes into each start.
The White Sox general manager responded to the 23-year-old's confidence and bravado, and the team decided that Sale's bullpen hiatus would only last from May 4-12. Since that discussion about the southpaw's normal elbow pain, Sale has posted a 7-1 record and enters the All-Star break with a 10-2 mark, a 2.19 ERA, 98 strikeouts and a .198 opponents' average against over 102 2/3 innings.
And just maybe by going out on a limb with one of his bosses, Sale, who is headed to his first All-Star game, got an extra push toward this elevated level of first-half success.
"Obviously, when you got to fight for something, you are going to want to live up to it and pitch like you said you could," Sale said. "I was just fortunate that it all worked out for me, although I didn't see any of this stuff happening. I'm happy where we are sitting right now."
Sale's last start of the first half came Tuesday in a 19-2 victory over the Rangers, with his Sunday start being skipped and Sale getting a full-fledged chance to pitch in the Midsummer Classic. Both Williams and pitching coach Don Cooper have been talking for a few weeks about the All-Star break being a chance to manage Sale's innings, so this move is more about a look at the full season than simply Sale's first All-Star appearance.
Even without the Sunday start, Sale has stayed on the same program with just a slight tweak to his daily workout. He ranks high up in consideration for American League Cy Young as the first half comes to a close and is on his way toward a 20-win season.
Neither of those accomplishments are weighing on Sale's mind.
"It's going to take a lot to do that," Sale said. "That's something not even on the radar right now. It's cool to talk about and chit-chat about, but I still have a long way to go."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. CT.