CHICAGO -- There was a brief moment, when Sergio Santos was traded to Toronto during the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, where Chris Sale thought he might be headed back to the bullpen as the new White Sox closer.It certainly wasn't a job the southpaw would fight against. It just wasn't part of the 2012 plan to move Sale into the starting rotation, which stands as the fulfillment of Sale's Major League dream in just his second full season. "Like I said, I've had some good moments in the bullpen and some fun ones," said Sale during a Monday conference call to discuss his move to the starting five. "A lot of them were closing out ballgames. "There's nothing like being the last guy in line and making the final out and having the pressure on you. Those are the things you love to do and those are the moments you look for. "I thought for a little bit I would be back in the bullpen," said Sale, who recorded eight of his 12 career saves in the 2011 season. "But [White Sox pitching coach Don] Cooper reassured me and said we were sticking with the starting plan so get ready." The first member of the 2010 First Year Player Draft class to reach the Major Leagues, with his debut coming just two months after he was selected 13th overall, began working out for a move to the rotation in November. Part of Sale's focus has been on his secondary pitches, with the changeup, as an example, not necessarily being regularly featured when he was pitching one inning out of the bullpen and throwing just 25 pitches. Now, Sale will be in charge of 105 to 115 pitches, so the game plan adjusts accordingly. The extra pitches and innings won't make the fastball any less important. In fact, the 22-year-old understands the usage of his fastball in the mid-90s will dictate his future success, so it's getting a large share of offseason refining. "I'll be working a lot with fastball command," Sale said. "That's something as a starter you have to have on your side: being able to locate it in, out, up and down. And you have to be able to do it consistently. The good ones do that. "Cooper told me to work on my fastball command, and be mentally and physically in shape and ready to go. It's going to be more throwing and more time in between days of throwing. "In the bullpen, there were more short one or two innings at a time, just grip it and rip it. Starting will be slow and steady throughout the game, pacing myself. It's something where I really have to pay attention." Sale will try to avoid going all out in the first three innings of a given a start and burning himself out by the time the opposition has gone once through its batting order. Of course, everything Sale does in his move to the rotation will be closely watched by Cooper, general manager Ken Williams and manager Robin Ventura. His two previous years have featured a combined 104 2/3 innings thrown over 90 games. Sale's starting target could be somewhere in the 170-innings range, although he said Monday that it's too early to start setting levels to achieve. "We'll see when we get there, but I truly feel I can do it," Sale said. "I'm just really looking forward to the opportunity. It will be a lot more work and a lot more throwing, but I'm ready to take on that challenge." "Let's face it: We are going to watch him, take care of him and make decisions on where he's at with innings and stuff like that," said Cooper. "That's normal for any starter. We are looking forward to the challenge of reaching the goal he wants, and he wants to be a starter and we want him to be a starter. I like challenges like that, but I go into that saying we are going to get it done." While Sale will be at SoxFest this weekend, he just returned from a late honeymoon with his wife to Maui. His family soon will be celebrating Sale's first career start, although the possibility always exists that Sale once again could deal with that closing rush if the need arises. "They gave me the opportunity to start, and I'm very passionate to start," Sale said. "That's what I would really like to do, ideally. "Everything doesn't go perfectly ever time. If [closing] was the option, I have nothing to complain about. But in a perfect world, I would really like to do this starting plan."