Sale offers change of pace in spring finale

Sale offers change of pace in spring finale

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tuesday's start against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium was not about getting work in for Chris Sale.

As his last appearance in Arizona, Sale was focused on game preparation for his first career Opening Day start coming Monday against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field. With that goal in mind, Sale and catcher Hector Gimenez decided to utilize his changeup.

"Yeah, it felt good, especially to lefties," said Sale of the pitch, which helped him limit the Rangers to one Geovany Soto solo homer over four innings and 50 pitches, while he fanned five.

"Hector told me before the game that we were going to throw a lot more changeups," Sale added. "He said that these guys have seen your breaking ball and haven't been quite on your changeup and haven't seen it as much."

Sale used the change to strike out Nelson Cruz in the second and did the same to David Murphy as the next hitter. Ian Kinsler was the final swinging victim on the change to close out the third.

The next game for Sale is one that actually counts, as he gets an extra day of rest before taking the mound. He doesn't believe the nerves for that start will actually subside until after the final out of the late afternoon contest in Chicago.

"Whether it's Spring Training or the first game or middle or last, I still get butterflies in my stomach and the nerves are still there," Sale said. "It's all about how you control it and hopefully I'll see it through.

"Sometimes you can beat yourself up mentally and that's one thing I'm going to focus on the most is I feel fine, I feel ready physically. The next battle is just keeping my mind clear and not thinking too far into what's going on."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.