Sale moving into starters' role for White Sox

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Chris Sale is bringing his power arm to the Chicago White Sox's rotation.

With a fastball reaching 100 mph, the hard-throwing left-hander has thrived in the bullpen, posting a 2.58 ERA and 12 saves in 94 1/3 innings in 2010 and 2011.

Now the Sox want him in a new role: starting pitcher.

Sale is moving to the rotation after the departure of ace Mark Buehrle as a free agent to the Miami Marlins. Sale is building up his strength and adjusting to being a starter this spring training.

"I think he's already proven he's one of the top lefty relievers," Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said.

"Now we have the challenge of trying to see how good he can be and see if we can match that as a starter. If you asked around the league, especially the lefty hitters, I think they'd all say Chris Sale is pretty dang tough. Now we're looking to transfer that into a starting role."

To prepare for his new job, Sale added swimming to his training regimen in the offseason. He swam three to five times a week in Fort Myers, Fla. Sale picked up the workout routine from his dad, Allen, who swims three miles a day.

"It's good cardio, good for your shoulders, good for your body," he said. "It was very beneficial. I felt great after doing that. My father swims every day. I figured if he can do it -- get me in the pool too."

Sale is embracing the role of starter. He last started in college in 2010 at Florida Gulf Coast. That season, he went 11-0 with a 2.01 ERA, striking out 146 in 103 innings before the Sox drafted him with the 13th overall pick.

Sale has yet to start a game in the majors.

"Starting is something I see myself doing for a long time," he said. "It's something I've grown up doing, and it's something I love doing. At the end of the day, if it comes down to it, and they say, 'We need your arm in the bullpen,' I have no complaints. This is a team effort, and we're here to win ball games."

The Sox will monitor how many innings the 22-year-old Sale will throw, but they won't limit him, Cooper said. Sale threw 71 innings last season in his first full major-league season, with 79 strikeouts and 27 walks.

"To get the full benefit and the full experience, we're going to let him go," Cooper said. "We'll evaluate things as we're going. The biggest goal for any starting pitcher is to stay healthy and strong."

Sale's teammates are looking forward to seeing him make the transition.

"Chris Sale is as good as anybody I want to say I've ever played with as far as just his raw physical talent," starting pitcher Jake Peavy said. "Throwing him in the rotation, how he holds up, is going to be huge."

Sale joins Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber in the rotation. Gone is Buehrle, who posted a 3.83 ERA in 12 seasons with the Sox and threw a perfect game in 2009.

"There's no doubt he's going to be missed," Sale said. "He's one of the best. That same time, I feel like we have guys who can fill that void."