BOSTON (CBS) — Over the winter, Chris Sale traded his white socks for some red ones.
It doesn’t matter what color his socks are, though, as Sale has continued to enjoy the same success he usually does on the mound. In his first 10 starts with the Red Sox, the dominant lefty has 101 strikeouts to go with his 5-2 record, 2.34 ERA and unreal .808 WHIP.
But on Tuesday, he’ll square off against his former team for the first time since that winter blockbuster trade sent him from Chicago to Boston. Things felt a bit different as the 28-year-old walked through Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday before the two teams began their three-game series, but Sale said it was good to be back in the city where his Major League career all started.
“It is weird. It’s different. Walking through, it’s the same tunnel I walked through to get to the home clubhouse, just a little bit of a longer walk,” Sale told reporters in Chicago. “I’ve never been in the visiting clubhouse, so walking in there I had to get my bearings straight. But it feels good to be back.”
Sale made it clear that there are no hard feelings toward the White Sox organization, who opted to deal their ace over the winter for Boston’s top prospect Yoan Moncada and a promising young arm in Michael Kopech. He understands Chicago’s desire to kickstart their rebuild and added that it’s rare for a player to remain with the same team throughout their entire career. But he credits his seven-year stay with the White Sox for making him the pitcher he is today.
“I just want everyone to know that I appreciated my time here. There were a couple of blips on the radar among some really good times. More times than not it was great here and I appreciated it,” said Sale. “I always had great teammates and a great coaching staff, and I appreciated that and don’t want to lose sight of that.”
He’s also eager to see the reaction he gets from fans, who watched him develop from a stringy reliever into a dominant, top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
“I appreciated these fans for a long time so we’ll see what I get,” he said.
Sale admitted that there will be some nerves when he first toes the rubber on Tuesday evening, and we may even see a rare smile spread across his face while he’s on the mound.
“My oldest son, Rylan, asked if I would be nervous playing here, and I think a little bit of me will be,” he said. “But I think I’m more looking forward to this opportunity than any other emotion. It’s fun; I’m playing against my friends and it might be hard on the mound to not smile at a couple of them. It will be a fun atmosphere and a fun time, just go out and play my game, just against guys I know a little better.”
Sale wouldn’t say which former teammates he is looking forward to facing the most, but don’t think he’s going to go easy on his old pals.
“I spent a lot of time with these guys, they were my teammates for a handful of years and we had some good times together. It will be hard not to smile. I’m going to compete, that’s for sure,” he said. “They may be my friends but I’m not going to give them anything.”