5/24/2014 1:33 A.M. ET
Sale feels good after first start off DL
By Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale removed any lingering doubts he was ready to return to a Major League mound with his dominant 10-strikeout, one-hit, six-inning start in Thursday's 3-2 win over the Yankees.
The key from there is how Sale's arm responds. He said the true test would be how he felt in his side session before Friday's game, but that he felt the same normal soreness he would after any other start.
"Just kind of tightness. Tomorrow's usually my sore day. I'm more sore on Day 2," Sale said. "Today's just kind of stiff, but still nothing -- I mean I went through my whole workout, whole shoulder program, and like I said, the true test is throwing, but I don't feel anything in there different than any other time."
One way Sale can limit the stress on his arm is by throwing fewer sliders, and he's done just that this season as his changeup has developed. He has thrown the changeup 30.5 percent of the time vs. 19.9 percent last season, while his slider usage has dipped from 29.5 to 18.3 percent.
Sale used his slider more than usual against New York, which catcher Tyler Flowers said had more to do with the Yankees' aggressive lineup than anything else.
"I don't know, we'll see if anybody says anything to me about cutting back on those sliders, but I felt like I was trying to use them as sparingly as I could," Flowers said. "But, like I said, that lineup called for using that pitch probably more than your typical lineup."
Plus, Sale was cleared as fully healthy, so he and Flowers wanted to treat it like any other start. That means throwing sliders without hesitation.
"Yeah, there was definitely no limitation given to me as far as how many I could throw or anything of that matter," Flowers said. "But I'm not going to be a moron back there and call 40 of them. I tried to use them at the times where I knew that was the right pitch to throw."
Abreu willing to make small tweaks to stay healthy
CHICAGO -- Like the top decision-makers in the White Sox organization, rookie slugger Jose Abreu is confident he'll be able to return from his ankle injury when he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on June 2.
Abreu, who is in a walking boot for the next three days, checks in with doctors every day and seems to be progressing well. To keep himself occupied and in shape, Abreu has been doing strength-and-conditioning workouts for his upper body, but that doesn't make it any easier for the Cuban transplant to sit out.
"For me, it's very hard. I don't deal well being off the field," Abreu said through White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "I like to be on the field. It's so hard it's even hard to watch the games at home. We have a saying in Spanish: 'It's hard to see the bulls from far away.' You want to be down there with them.
"It's very difficult, but we're dealing with it the best we can. We're just trying to do everything we can to get back to the field as soon as possible."
"He's not happy, I know that," manager Robin Ventura said. "When you talk to him, you just try to keep it light-hearted and know that for him, he knows we miss him and we'd like him to play as soon as he can. But he needs to be 100 percent. In talking to him, he understands that for him to do what we need to, for him to enjoy it, he needs to be healthy."
Abreu said he is open to making some adjustments to preserve his long-term health, though he didn't offer many details. It won't include being a regular designated hitter, which he did in the eight consecutive games prior to hitting the DL.
"The first thing I assume we're going to do is my hitting routine is going to be adjusted a little bit. That's first and foremost," he said. "The other adjustments would have to do with being on the field and all that stuff, but we can make that happen. Probably the hitting routine, the amount of swings and things like that.
"DH is something I don't really like doing. We're going to do this the right way so when I'm out there, when I'm playing, I'm able to play on the field. Obviously, those decisions are meant for the manager, but me personally, I don't like DH-ing."
Abreu said he doesn't see a reason why he wouldn't be back by June 2, but the he is open to more rehab if need be. The good news is that it doesn't appear as though the White Sox will have to be over-cautious with their hard-swinging first baseman.
"I don't know if it's cautious. I mean, if we see the same thing, we're going to take care of it," Ventura said. "But I don't think that's anything like [Adam] Eaton's [hamstring injury], where you're going to pull a muscle or do anything like that. He definitely has issues that if you see if again then we'll take care of it. It's not something we'll tell him, 'Don't use your ankle.'"
Ventura maintains confidence in Belisario as closer
CHICAGO -- Ronald Belisario has picked up a pair of saves for the White Sox in Matt Lindstrom's absence, but neither has been clean.
On Wednesday in Kansas City, he came in to protect a two-run lead and gave up one. Against the Yankees on Thursday night, he had a three-run lead and allowed two runs, striking out Alfonso Soriano looking on a borderline pitch to end the game and leave the tying run on base.
When Lindstrom went down with an ankle injury that will shelve him for three months following surgery, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Belisario would be the frontrunner to replace Lindstrom, but left the door open for others to chip in. Ventura didn't waiver on that stance before Friday's game.
"I think really where we were bullpen-wise, we have been using guys multiple innings in back-to-back days, so you're really trying to catch back up as far as getting enough rest and getting them in the right situation," Ventura said. "Beli happened to be in the right spot at the right time but he also earned it.
"As of now, he's probably the guy that's going to be doing it until there is a time when he throws too many days in a row and you do have other options of other guys who can do it. For right now, I see him doing it."
To his credit, Belisario said he's closed in Venezuelan winter ball the past 10 or 11 years. The 31-year-old righty has been a valuable component out of the 'pen as a reliever who can toss multiple innings from the sixth through the eighth.
"I mean I feel pretty good. It feels almost like the same, but you have to make the last three outs of the game," Belisario said of closing.
One reliever frequently mentioned as a future closer is 24-year-old righty Daniel Webb, who has a 2.52 ERA but has walked 17 in 25 innings.
"Everyone always dreams about, bullpen guys always dream about being a closer, a setup guy, a late-inning guy," Webb said. "That's everybody's goal and one of my goals. Until the day they tell me I'm closer, if they ever do, I'm just going to keep going out there whatever inning they need me to go."
Third to first
• Memorial Day is considered by many a marker for team self-evaluation, along with July 4. So how would Ventura assess his club three days ahead of the unofficial start of summer?
"It's been a mixed bag as far as guys getting hurt, guys filling in and doing that kind of thing, so it's not as much where you had the same team the whole time to be able to do it," he said. "We do like where we're at offensively with guys, the way we're swinging the bats and the years some guys are having. It's good. It keeps you in a lot of games. I think, early on, the bullpen struggled a little bit and they have been great as of late. There is a lot of things that have been going in the right direction for us."
• Conor Gillaspie has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games , hitting .333 (23-for-69) with five doubles and six RBIs.
• Sale's start Thursday night made him the second pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to allow one hit with 10-plus strikeouts in consecutive starts. Then-New York Met R.A. Dickey also did it in 2012.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.