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Red Sox newcomer Chris Sale goes 2 innings in spring debut
By CHUCK KING
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Chris Sale gave himself mixed reviews after his first spring training performance for the Boston Red Sox, an outing that ended a little earlier than originally planned.
Boston manager John Farrell had Sale set to go three innings Monday against Houston. But after 37 pitches in two innings, Farrell decided the debut was over.
"I understand why, I mean I racked up a pretty good amount of pitches, which is another thing I'd like to get down," Sale said.
Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in December, the dominant lefty gave up two runs, one of them earned, and struck out two.
"Happy? I don't know," Sale said. "I got some good work in. I'm not a fan of sitting here and saying spring training doesn't matter. You still want to get results."
The scoreboard radar gun showed Sale's fastball hitting 97 mph a couple times during the first inning. His final offering was 76 mph slider that he took something off, striking out Marwin Gonzalez looking.
Sale had his own cheering section at the Astros' park. He's from Lakeland and his parents, in-laws and some former college buddies from Florida Gulf Coast made the roughly two-hour drive to see him don the Red Sox uniform - red jersey, gray pants and a red cap with a blue bill - for the first time.
The Red Sox traded three minor leaguers and highly touted Yoan Moncada to the White Sox for Sale, a five-time All-Star and the 2015 AL strikeout king.
Sale's addition took on even more importance earlier this spring when lefty ace David Price began experiencing elbow soreness. Price's status for the start of the season remains uncertain.
"I think every player we have has got a certain amount of scrutiny just because it's Boston," Farrell said. "Independent of developments on our roster, health wise or other, Chris Sale is going to draw a lot of attention. Based on what we know of him, I think he'll handle this environment well. It can be unique for players coming in the first year and going through an adjustment period but he seems to be very well equipped to stay focused on the things he can control."
Farrell believes Sale's competitiveness will elevate his teammate's focus.
"You get the sense that the team, on the day he's on the mound, takes on that persona," Farrell said. "There's an edge about him, the way he goes about his work. He's got tremendous physical ability to back that up."
"That's part of being comfortable and feeling a part of the team is having the fans right there behind your back, too, pushing you in the right direction and saying welcome to Boston - World Series this, World Series that," Sale said. "You can't help but get a little energized from that and feel good."
Some of Sale's troubles on Monday weren't of his own making.
Astros leadoff man George Springer lifted a seemingly innocent fly to the right side and first baseman Sam Travis broke back on a ball that normally would have landed a couple steps onto the outfield grass. Instead, a brisk 20 mph wind blew the ball and it dropped near the bag for an error.
Gonzalez followed with a one-hop double over the third base bag putting runners on second and third - a rough start but not completely undesirable during the spring.
"Those are good situations to be in," Sale said. "It's going to happen sometime throughout the year. It's nice to be able to get in those scenarios and try to work your way out of them."
The three hits Sale surrendered in the second inning all came within a foot of diving fielders.
"I was a little surprised to see the velocity he had in his first outing," Farrell said. "In a way you kind of think it's a high number for this early in camp but you can't tell a strong competitor to back off."
The Astros and Red Sox finished in a 5-5 tie called after nine innings.
Updated March 6, 2017