Friday, February 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Can Chris Sale do for the Red Sox what David Price could not?

FORT MYERS — Chris Sale wants to win. He said that Tuesday during his press conference following his first official workout as a Red Sox.

Repeatedly.

"I've said it 157 times," Sale said.

That's an exaggeration, but he used the word often when talking about the offseason trade that brought him from the Chicago White Sox to Boston and about joining a team that dealt two top prospects for the left-handed pitcher to, well, win.

"You walk in here," the Lakeland native said. "You see all the (championship) banners. We got a lot of banners here. Like to add to that."

The Red Sox added former Rays pitcher David Price last season and won the American League East but were swept by the Indians in the division series. Rick Porcello won 22 games during his breakout summer and earned the AL Cy Young Award. Now Sale, who has finished in the top-five in the Cy Young voting each of the last four seasons, joins that mix to give the Sox a potent front end to the rotation.

"Him in our uniform is the most encouraging and exciting thing," manager John Farrell said when asked Tuesday about watching Sale's bullpen session.

Sale comes with expectations. Winning the division is not good enough for the Red Sox. Like Sale, the organization wants more banners.

Like Price last season, Sale is expected to put the team over the top.

He said he's ready to shoulder the load. Price said the same prior to the 2016 season. Heck, former Ray left fielder Carl Crawford said as much when he joined the Red Sox in 2011 as a free agent.

But those expectations from New England's demanding fan base and media can cause problems. It's not easy being a superstar athlete in Boston. Even Tom Brady has felt some slings and arrows between Super Bowl triumphs.

"Even before those guys put on a Red Sox uniform they are aware that certain markets there is a tremendous amount of passion and expectation," Farrell said. "I'm confident he embraces that. I know he's excited to be here with the Red Sox."

Price is keenly aware of what awaits this new teammate.

"I think he kind of knows what he's getting into. He's not going to treat it any differently. He's going to be Chris Sale. Don't try to be anybody else," Price said. "He knows Chris Sale is good enough for us. We all know what he's capable of doing, that's for sure."

Price won 17 games last season and was judged by many who follow the team to have underachieved.

"I expect a lot of myself. I have very high expectations of myself. I demand a lot from myself, so I don't think it will be anything different," Sale said. "I'll be harder on myself than you guys (the media)) will. Not worried about that."

Sale said all the right things Tuesday. He said he learned from his actions last year when he criticized White Sox team president Ken Williams after Williams barred the son of then White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche from the clubhouse, and from his five-game suspension for destroying throwback jerseys before a game against the Tigers.

"All I want to say on that is you live and learn," he said.

Then he added, "I don't think they have throwbacks here." (Actually, they do.)

And just so Red Sox fans know he's all in, when asked if he was a Patriots fan, Sale said, "I am now."

But it's the three-letter word Sale repeatedly used Tuesday that lets Red Sox fans know he understands what's expected and will keep them warm through the remainder of the winter.

At least until Opening Day.

 
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