MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Chris Sale has spoken passionately about wanting to win the World Series since he joined the Red Sox in 2017, often saying it was his only remaining ambition as a player.
So what now?
“Nothing changes,” the lefthander said Saturday. “My wife asked me that same question. You worked your entire life to achieve this goal, what do you do once you achieve it? [Shoot], you do it again.
“That’s why we sign up. You win once and you just want to keep winning. If you don’t win, all you want to do is win. Our goal is to continue winning games and a couple more of those trophies.”
Sale, who was at Foxwoods Resort Casino for the team’s Winter Weekend event, joked that he’s watched the final inning of the World Series “a couple hundred thousand times” during the offseason.
Sale came out of the bullpen and struck out the three Dodgers he faced on 15 pitches to secure the title.
His final pitch, a hellacious slider, dropped Manny Machado to one knee as he fruitlessly swung through it.
“It was really special. I look at the video and it will give you chills,” Sale said.
Sale said he has been playing catch since Thanksgiving and experienced no problems with his left shoulder.
“I feel normal again,” he said. “I’m able to throw free and easy and feel loose and kind of have that whip back. It’s obviously a nice feeling.”
Sale was limited to one start between July 28 and Sept. 10 because of shoulder pain and spent 38 games on the disabled list in all.
The injury almost certainly cost him the Cy Young Award, as Sale was 12-4 with a 2.11 earned run average in the 27 games he did start. He finished fourth in the voting.
Sale was clearly limited in the postseason, averaging 4⅔ innings in three starts with a 4.73 ERA. But he feels that’s in the past.
The most significant change Sale made to his offseason program was moving his workouts to the team’s facility in Fort Myers, Fla. The focus has been on improving the endurance and strength of his shoulder.
“Other than that it’s been normal,” Sale said.
Pitching coach Dana LeVangie doesn’t regret anything the Sox did with Sale last season. But one goal this season will be to better control his velocity.
“Is there an ideal velocity that we can work around, stay at, and add when we want to instead of going up to 100 on the second pitch of the game?” LeVangie said.
Sale, who is entering the final season of his contract, is open to extension talks.
“Nothing has happened up to this point. But if they call, I’ll answer,” he said.
Team president Sam Kennedy said it was unlikely the Sox would visit the White House next month if the government remains shut down.
The Sox are sympathetic to the thousands of government employees who have been furloughed or are working without pay.
“It’s hit people hard in the New England area,” Kennedy said. “I’m not sure it’s appropriate to be celebrating in such a public way while there’s people who are struggling right now. That’s been the internal conversation.
“We’ll continue to examine it and make a decision here pretty soon.”
Manager Alex Cora, who is concerned with the Trump administration’s treatment of his native Puerto Rico, has said he is considering whether to attend. Indications are he will not.
But more players than not want to go.
“We’ve had lots of players that want to go and a few players who have communicated they don’t want to go,” Kennedy said.
Sale, Rick Porcello, Mitch Moreland, and Matt Barnes said they would make the visit.
Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Nunez said they were undecided. Eduardo Rodriguez said he would see what others do then quickly mentioned the benefits of spending the day with his family instead.
Rafael Devers will not go, saying via a translator he did not feel it was necessary.
Making his pitch
Unless the Red Sox add to the roster, Barnes is lined up to be their closer.
“I feel good about it. We’ll see. That’s not my decision to make,” he said. “I’m going to do the same thing I’ve done every single year, I’m going to show up and get outs in whatever inning or role that may be.”
Barnes, who has two career saves, averaged 14 strikeouts per nine innings last season and held opponents to a .624 OPS.
He acknowledged being the closer carries a different responsibility but feels he could handle it.
“It would definitely be a role change but a role change that I would welcome and adapt and do the job,” Barnes said.
Barnes was in Jamaica on the last day of his honeymoon on Friday and traveled all day to attend Saturday’s event.
Deal him in?
Bogaerts, who is entering his free agency year, acknowledged the Sox approached him about a contract extension and he is open to staying.
“The season hasn’t started yet. You never know if there is room to talk,” he said. “If both sides can get an agreement, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Bogaerts, 26, hit .288 with an .883 OPS last season.
Righthander Tyler Thornburg missed the 2017 season recovering from shoulder surgery and last year appeared in only 25 games before being shut down. But he is throwing 5-6 times a week in preparation for spring training. “It feels like a relatively normal offseason,” Thornburg said. “It’s been really nice.” Thornburg was signed to an incentive-laden contract in December and has to make the team out of spring training . . . Devers said he has lost some weight, without specifying how much. He feels he’s better prepared physically and for how pitchers will attack him. Devers was a below-average hitter during the regular season but hit .294 with nine RBIs in 11 postseason games . . . Nunez, who played last season with a sore right knee, said his offseason has been normal and he expects to have improved mobility, particularly on defense . . . Andrew Benintendi said the Sox have not approached him about a long-term contract . . . The Red Sox are renovating the home clubhouse to create new office space for Cora, the coaching staff, and video staff. There also will be a new family room . . . The Red Sox have yet to receive the necessary city approvals for the proposed 5,000-seat theater at the junction of Lansdowne and Ipswich Streets behind Fenway Park. They hope to break ground on that project sometime this year . . . A crowd of approximately 7,200 attended the event. The Sox sold 1,000 more tickets than previous years.