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."
White Sox see no intent, don't retaliate
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' Josh Judy has hit four Major League hitters with pitches this season, and three of them have been Brent Lillibridge, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez. Beckham and Ramirez came in the ninth inning of Tuesday's night's 5-4 victory for the White Sox, two innings after Paul Konerko was hit in the left leg by a Zach Putnam pitch.
Konerko reacted angrily when hit by Putnam, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen showed anger after Ramirez was hit in the ninth. But despite getting hit four times during Tuesday's doubleheader, the White Sox didn't see intent and didn't answer back.
"Yeah, I don't think any of them were probably intentional," Konerko said. "But there's a cumulative thing that kind of adds up after a while. So, we'll see how that goes."
Mark Buehrle, Jesse Crain, Jason Frasor, Will Ohman and Sergio Santos all worked during Wednesday's 8-4 victory over the Indians, but no Cleveland hitters were plunked.
Guillen certainly is not afraid to call for an opposing player to be hit if he senses intent against his charges, and he's even less fearful to talk about it after the fact. But when questioned on Wednesday, he chalked it up to youthful wildness.
"You see Ubaldo [Jimenez] doing that or one of those guys, then it's, 'Hey, wait a minute,'" Guillen said. "When you see kids out there throwing balls inside, you can't tell people they are headhunters. I played this game and I've been in this game for a little while. You know when it's on purpose."
As for Chris Sale, who finished the game in the bottom of the ninth, he admitted to being more concerned about protecting the one-run lead.
"I really don't do too well in situations like that," said an honest Sale. "I've got a job to do. It's a one-run ballgame. Obviously, we don't like our guys going down like that, but the last thing you need to do is be stupid."
Konerko, Pierre sit; Quentin, Castro doubtful
CLEVELAND -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen gave Juan Pierre and Paul Konerko a night off Wednesday against the Indians and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Guillen wanted to give Konerko a game off during Tuesday's doubleheader, but it wouldn't have been a true break for the first baseman and captain.
Konerko sits five games away from playing in 2,000 during his illustrious career.
It's uncertain whether right fielder Carlos Quentin will play again this season. Quentin sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder making a diving catch in the first inning of an Aug. 20 game against Texas, and has just two at-bats since.
Catcher Ramon Castro is taking batting practice with the White Sox, and his broken right hand has healed nicely, according to the veteran. He might play in the season's last week, but if he doesn't, Castro's goal is to play one month in winter ball to get ready for 2012.
"I might give him one at-bat and see what happens," said Guillen of Castro. "Right now, he's not in the plans."
Vizquel states desire to return in '12
CLEVELAND -- Omar Vizquel has made it clear that he intends to play at age 45.
"I already made up my mind that I'm coming back," the White Sox infielder said of his 2012 plans.
Whether his friend and former teammate Jim Thome returns has yet to be decided. But Vizquel sounded as if he'd like to see more from the slugger.
"He's just an amazing human being," said Vizquel of Thome, now with the Indians. "I'm so glad he's still around. He's a guy who has been so honest and truthful to the game. He's the image people want to follow. He keeps out of trouble, and he really cares when he asks how you're doing. You can tell the guy means it."
Third to first
Brent Morel has seven homers and 17 RBIs in his last 22 games after going deep during Wednesday's 8-4 victory over the Indians. Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski both extended their hitting streaks to eight games on Wednesday. The White Sox have an 11-6 mark against the Indians, a 6-2 record at Progressive Field and a 43-37 ledger overall on the road. Reliever Jesse Crain has set a career high with 22 holds.