By Adam Hoge-
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) – Chris Sale is leaving Arizona on a high note.
The hard-throwing left-hander allowed just one run in six innings of work Thursday as the White Sox beat the Dodgers 3-1 at Camelback Ranch.
Sale only allowed four hits and struck out seven, including five of the first six hitters he faced. He didn’t allow a walk and has only walked two batters in 24 innings this spring.
“He was pretty good,” Robin Ventura said. “He let a couple people put some in play, so we docked him a few points.”
The manager wasn’t being serious of course, but at this point, opposing batters better start taking Sale seriously. Matt Kemp, for instance, struck out three times against the lefty Thursday.
Sale left after just 86 pitches, but felt like he could have gone at least another inning, a good sign for the former reliever who is entering his first season as a starter in the majors.
“I felt strong the entire time,” Sale said. “That’s the most important part. I went down to the bullpen and threw 15-20 more down there and felt great the entire time.”
Thursday’s start was Sale’s last in Arizona, but he’ll likely pitch Tuesday’s exhibition game in Houston against the Astros.
Rios A Late Scratch
Right-fielder Alex Rios missed Thursday’s game with a slightly strained Achilles after originally being in the lineup.
The outfielder suffered the injury Wednesday, but Ventura said the decision to take him out of the lineup Thursday was just precautionary. Rios wanted to play, but trainer Herm Schneider made the decision to hold him out.
Rios is in Friday’s lineup against the Royals, batting third and playing right field.
Bullpen Lining Up
After Sale exited Thursday’s game, Ventura went with Hector Santiago for one batter in the seventh before Addison Reed finished off the inning. Jesse Crain pitched the eighth and Matt Thornton went in the ninth.
While Ventura has been playing around with the bullpen order, Thursday’s lineup of relievers might be what you see at the start of the regular season. No decision on the closer has been made yet, but Thornton appears to be in the lead.
“They could tell me Opening Day,” Thornton said when asked if it matters to him when a final decision is made. “I don’t care. Don’t matter to me. They’ll figure that out here soon enough.”
Santiago and Reed continue to pitch well and give the bullpen depth. Both have closer material.
“For me it’s nice to see them go back-to-back days and still throw the way they did,” Ventura said. “That was the most important thing for me. That’s just good to see.”
Crain, meanwhile, pitched in a major-league game for the first time since March 12 after being bothered by a strained oblique. He retired all three batters he faced in quick order with one strikeout.
“Probably the best I’ve thrown this spring so far as far as command, down in the zone and getting out there,” Crain said. “Hopefully it’s just a sign of getting back to normal.”
Crain is scheduled to pitch again Saturday and then once more in Houston before the season starts.
Viciedo Turning A Corner?
After a dreadful start to the spring, Dayan Viciedo has taken baby steps this week with a few hits. He hasn’t exactly been crushing the ball, but the White Sox are seeing positive signs out of their left-fielder.
“I think his frustration level has subsided somewhat,” Ventura said. “He got a couple hits the other day and today. Even if it’s not the hardest hit ball, it’s still a relief to kind of still be doing something. He’s getting closer and closer so I’m happy with him.”