By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) White Sox ace Chris Sale has moved into a new leadership role. After a character-building season in 2013, Sale is looking to step it up, with many first-time teammates as part of the mix this season.
“We will see through spring training what everyone has,” Sale said. “They will evaluate everyone and move from there. It is fun anytime new guys come in, and they have the status that they hold. It is always fun and exciting. We will see how it plays out and go from there”
Sale had a star-crossed season in 2013, going 11-14 while putting up an impressive 3.07 ERA. Dealing with 99 loses usually either builds character or beats a player down.
“Last year was last year,” Sale said. “You have to keep your head up. With anything bad that happen, you always try to take something positive out of it. You learn to keep your spirits up because if you put your head down things have a way of falling on top of you.”
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn signed Sale to one of the most team-friendly long-term contracts in recent memory last March (seven years, $44 million). Nonetheless, Sale heard his name bandied about all last fall and early winter. The Diamondbacks put together a big proposal filled with young players in hopes of acquiring the pitcher.
For his part, Sale is happy to still be wearing a Chicago uniform.
“I am real happy to be here,” Sale said. “I don’t like moving. I like it here and hope to be here for awhile. I didn’t even know about it. We had friends calling me saying, ‘Hey, are you getting traded?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ They said, ‘Hey, your name is popping up all over the place .'”
Sale admitted he called Hahn and Co. to check out the rumors. He was assured he was coming back by front office. That said, if a boatload of great young talent is offered for Sale in the future, the White Sox will listen.
In the meantime, expect bigger and better things from the teams top pitcher in 2014.
Bruce Levine is a baseball reporter/analyst for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.