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Sale looks to reduce stolen bases next season

Sale looks to reduce stolen bases next season

Sale looks to reduce stolen bases next season

CHICAGO -- A pretty deep search is needed to find a negative amid Chris Sale's Cy Young-worthy performance in 2013. He set a single-season franchise record for a left-handed starter with 226 strikeouts, established a franchise record for a starter with 9.49 strikeouts per nine innings and surpassed 200 innings for the first time in his career, not to mention reducing his walk total from his rotation debut in 2012.

But neutralizing the running game remains a work in progress for Sale. Factoring in two Royals' stolen bases on Friday, opponents were successful on 19 of 21 opportunities with Sale on the mound.

"I wouldn't say I have a good move to first by any means. I actually have a kind of bad move," Sale said with a wry smile. "It's something you want to build on and do better at. You watch guys like Andy Pettitte, and obviously Mark Buehrle had an unbelievable move.

"To be able to take away maybe half of those, it's big. It's something to work on for next year."

By Sale's own admission, he really doesn't care about the runner on base. Finding a happy medium between too much focus and none at all certainly will give White Sox catchers a better chance at nailing would-be base stealers.

"Yeah, work on a pickoff move, maybe work on looks. Just get better for next year," Sale said. "My focus is at the plate. Sometimes I feel like you worry about the guy at first and you kind of lose track of what you really need to do.

"Like I said, that's my downfall. I wouldn't say not caring, but not paying attention enough to guys on base, knowing that I have to get this guy out before anything happens with him."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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