CHICAGO -- There's an ongoing process taking place in converting Chris Sale from a solid late-inning reliever to the frontline starting pitcher those in the White Sox organization expect him to become. But even when Sale battles his way to a decent outing with his less than best stuff, as he did over five innings Sunday against the Tigers during his second career start, the 23-year-old southpaw wants more.
And he inevitably ends up being his own harshest critic.
"I feel like being hard on myself is something that motivates me to be better next time," Sale said. "Obviously my parents are always saying, 'It wasn't that bad' or 'It wasn't as bad as you thought it was.' You have everyone picking you up.
"But at the same time I don't want to be satisfied with something less than a good outing. It's something that kind of fuels me and fires me up for the next time out."
Sale's stuff is as good as any pitcher in the White Sox rotation and ranks right up there in the upper echelon of American League starters. So, he doesn't want his starting inexperience used as an excuse for not being as good as he believes possible.
"As a competitor and athlete, I want everything to be top notch every time out," Sale said. "I expect myself to be a guy that is reliable on this team as a starter. I don't want people to be like, 'It's his first year.'
"I'm not big on excuses. I know it is my first year and getting my feet wet ... But at the same time I still expect myself to go out there and be the pitcher I want to be, and the pitcher this team needs me to be. I hold myself accountable for being good. When I'm not good, I'll let you know."
White Sox keep early stats in perspective
CHICAGO -- If Paul Konerko was running stadium operations around Major League Baseball, he would not put up individual averages and RBIs on the scoreboard until the middle of May.
Anything earlier than that point simply falls under the "Too early to judge" heading in the captain's educated estimation. But as Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel can attest, many people don't hold the same patience as Konerko concerning early-season slumps.
"There are people inside the game who are smart baseball people and people outside the game that aren't smart baseball people, they all do it," Konerko said. "Everybody is kind of guilty early in the year of looking at a 20 or 30 at-bat sample and making judgments off of that. Even smart people.
"Everybody knows it's wrong and still does it. A tradition, I guess. It's up to the players. ... There's a lot of distractions in the big leagues, and if it was just about playing the game it would be a lot easier.
"You have to figure out ways to block that stuff out and know what you're doing is right and over the long haul it will hold up," Konerko said. "You have to trust that, and stick with the people who know and are there to help you. And the rest of them? They have no place in your day."
Count White Sox manager Robin Ventura as one of those people planted firmly in the corner of his struggling hitters. Despite Morel hitting .103 with two RBIs, he was back at the two-slot for Wednesday night's 8-1 victory over the Orioles. Beckham with his .152 average and one RBI was hitting ninth.
Of course, the two players have 72 at-bats combined and even a 7-for-15 sort of hot streak would instantly raise their average above .200. Slumps are part of the game, but they are more pronounced when there's less evidence to study.
"There have been some bad at-bats, but there have also been a lot of really good at-bats that didn't result in hits," said Konerko, who certainly is not part of the White Sox April struggles. "If you keep doing it, the cycle will turn. There's a team right now that's getting it done, they'll have this cycle in the middle of August and no one will notice. That's how baseball works."
"If we're going to do anything this year, you're going to get something out of Beckham and Morel," Ventura said. "We're going to need them to play well so you do have to have patience with them."
Reed finds simple formula for pitching success
CHICAGO -- Addison Reed has employed an extremely basic formula in recording seven scoreless appearances to start the 2012 season -- make good pitches.
"The main thing is just to hit your spots," said the rookie when asked Wednesday what he learned in the first two weeks since breaking camp with the White Sox. "I feel like if you can hit your spots the majority of the time, you have a better chance of being successful.
"It's when you leave the pitches over the middle of the plate or throw it high is when they'll hit it. It's kind of having consistency with all of your pitches, not just your fastball, but the changeup, slider, cutter, whatever you throw. Just keeping it down and consistently hitting the corners and trying not to leave things up."
Sounds simple, right? But as the top White Sox prospect and a right-hander with overwhelming stuff, he could get away with a few mistakes at the Minor League level. Through last September's callup and this April, Reed has found out what happens to mistakes in the big leagues.
"They will hit it a long way," said a smiling Reed, who has limited right-handed hitters to two hits in 13 at-bats. "They'll let you know it's a mistake.
"Sometimes they will even hit the good pitches. Everyone up here can hit. There are no weak spots in any lineup. But for the most part, if you hit your spots and keep your ball down low, you have a better chance of being successful."
White Sox recognize need for timely hitting
CHICAGO -- The good news for the White Sox is that they have a .297 average with runners in scoring position and less than two outs. The bad news is that they are hitting .237 overall in those situations.
And the best news would be if they take advantage of more of these scoring opportunities.
"Any time you have a situation where you aren't getting timely hits, you can spin that either way," said Konerko, who is 6-for-11 with RISP. "You can get negative or say, 'Look at how many situations we've had to get those hits.
"Keep doing it, and it will come. Hopefully we are taking the latter approach where we are getting guys out there and getting back in some of the games where we are behind."
• White Sox relievers have allowed seven earned runs over their last 13 2/3 innings. They gave up just three earned runs over their first 15 1/3 innings.
• John Danks' quality start on Tuesday was the White Sox 800th since 2003, which is tops in the Majors during that time.
• Jake Peavy has 21 strikeouts and two walks over a team-best 19 2/3 innings this season after fanning eight and not issuing a walk during Wednesday's 8-1 win over the Orioles.
• White Sox catchers have thrown out 4-of-5 would-be base stealers this season. They were 2-for-25 last April.