GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — It would have been easy for Chris Sale to be critical last season given all the losses he accumulated despite delivering one dominant start after another for the Chicago White Sox.
He didn't see the point.
Sale believes he gained valuable experience going through that and is better now in more ways than one as the Chicago White Sox try to rebound from their worst season in recent memory.
"Last year made me a better pitcher, a better teammate and a better person because anyone can start throwing stuff and swearing at people and pointing fingers, but that really made me kind of grow up in a sense of knowing that these guys are giving everything they've got for me and it's just not working out," Sale said.
"It's not any single person's fault. It's not going to do me any good to grab someone and shake 'em, probably because they're bigger than me too. But you've got to work together and I think last year made us work together and really be closer in terms of off the field and in the clubhouse."
The 24-year-old left-hander was one of the few bright spots on a team that dropped 99 games, the most for the White Sox since 1970, and he hopes to build on that this time, maybe even pick up a few more wins, too.
Victories were about all that were missing from an otherwise packed stats line last season, when he made the All-Star team for the second straight year and picked up the win in the midsummer classic.
Despite an 11-14 record, he ranked third in the American League in strikeouts (226) and seventh in ERA (3.07).
Sale just might be one of the best bargains in the majors after signing a contract that guarantees $32.5 million over five seasons last March. He's set to earn $3.5 this season, and with the White Sox holding two team options, he's under their control through 2019.
With huge deals going to Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka, Sale is a bargain by comparison. He's eased doubts over his slight frame and violent delivery the past few seasons and is a cornerstone piece for a team that believes it can bounce back quickly.