Spring Training stories, especially in the first week, are a wellspring of positivity and optimism that have yet to even be troubled by the stresses of practice games, but it’s important to try to keep a track on it all–at least on a superficial level–if for no other reason than to track how the language about issues changes over time.
For example, John Danks described his mound session Thursday as “free of discomfort“, and otherwise full of wonder, but there are also two things to watch. At least.
Velocity and arm angle. Those are curious things to watch progress for us, but the White Sox would rather that Danks not take a critical eye to pretty much anything he’s doing, knowing that he will do so anyway.
"Hayes quoting Cooper:“It’s kind of foolish to be hard on yourself command-wise,” Cooper said. “My main concern is how do you feel before, how do you feel during and how do you feel after, including the next day. That’s how you should be grading yourself. Now, hey, 10 days from now, that’ll be a little fairer assessment because we’re expecting anybody, whoever it is, to look better 10 days from now. This is the start.”"
The Tyler Flowers PR battle
So far, promoting and begging for good feelings for Tyler Flowers has mostly come from the approach of arguing his independent merits as a player, and asking the essential question of “What is booing a player trying hard to overcome their shortcomings to earn their pre-arbitration salary going to accomplish?”
But bench coach Mark Parent has to be the first player or coach to try to justify Flowers’ presence by knocking a few inches off of the A.J. Pierzynski legend. So far, there hasn’t even been any reports of him wearing riot gear while doing it either.
"“Being a former catcher, I’ve got no problems with Tyler Flowers running a staff,’’ Parent said. “He throws better than A.J., receives better than A.J. and he communicates with the pitchers in a better fashion than A.J. I’m excited about Tyler’s chance to go play.”"
I would like to think that even Pierzynski’s most ardent fans would admit the first two points if pressed, but this is the strongest implication that there were rough moments between A.J. and the pitching staff from a member of the organization since Ozzie Guillen’s “hate him a little less” joke.
Sale looks the same, feels different
The SoxFest body talk around Sale was that he had added 15 pounds of muscle–which is a rather impressive thing to do in fourth months. That was also qualified as “10-15” pounds of muscle, and now Chuck Garfien is quoting an exact weigh-in figure to tell us all that it’s actually nine pounds, and that no, Chris Sale does not look like Carlos Castillo now.
“It’s in my feet,” is Sale’s joke on the matter. The takeaway should be that he’s keenly aware of the tapering off of his performance at the end of last year, and tried to address it through strength-training, which is all Colin was asking for after all.
The most exciting element of Garfien’s profile is where Sale reveals that Justin Verlander counseled him on arm fatigue problems:
"“He pulled me aside and was like, ‘This stuff is normal. I went through it when I was younger. Just fight through it. Once the off-season comes, relax and you’ll feel fine next year.’”"
- Sale & Verlander!? Mention in the same sentence?! /Passes out
- Verlander talking to people like his arm fatigue and recovery patterns are in any way normal is bit flawed in its approach, to put it lightly.
- But Verlander acknowledging Sale as a member of his peer group is neat, and offers a reason to respect the way he competes, in case anyone still needed one.
Verlander is a terrifyingly destructive monster, and has terrorized the White Sox so regularly that any time he’s even briefly humbled provides a guilty thrill. But man, what a player.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan