The White Sox made a surprising and significant decision Friday to move Chris Sale back to the bullpen. Sale, who has had a short but successful run as a starter this season after relieving last year, has been experiencing slight tenderness in his elbow area, manager Robin Ventura said.
Rather than risk his long-term health, the Sox decided to make Sale the closer. Dylan Axelrod will move into the rotation and start Sunday in Sale’s place against the Detroit Tigers.
Ventura said Sale will be available to close Monday, when the Sox play two games in Cleveland.
“It’s not disappointing to us, it’s disappointing to him because this was something he’s always wanted to do,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said before the Sox’ game Friday at Detroit. “We’re not making this decision based on what’s best for the team because obviously he’s starting and doing well and that would be a wonderful thing to keep him in. We feel we’re doing what’s best for him, his career and his health. It’s the best way to keep him healthy and strong.’’
Sale, 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA, has been the Sox’ second-best starter behind American League Pitcher of the Month Jake Peavy. He pitched in the bullpen last year, but his stated goal always was to start. His transition to the job had been smooth. He wasn’t happy about the move, Cooper said, and he declined to talk to reporters before the game, asking instead if he could talk Saturday.