The Chicago White Sox have watched the decision to turn LHP Chris Sale from a reliever to a starter go from an experiment to an All-Star selection, as the 23-year-old was named to his first All-Star team before the Sox lost to the New York Yankees 4-2 on Sunday.
Sale won't be alone, with the first-place South Siders also sending sluggers Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn in representing the American League in the Midsummer Classic July 10 at Kansas City. Sox RHP Jake Peavy will have a chance to join them, as he was announced as one of five players on the final vote ballot.
It was Sale that was getting all the handshakes and hugs from teammates and coaches on Sunday, however, as his 9-2 record and AL-leading 2.27 ERA were a big reason the Sox have been one of the surprise teams in the AL this season.
"It's awesome," Sale insisted. "It's something I've honestly thought about for a long time since I was a kid, playing baseball, being a fan of baseball. I was kind of speechless. They told me. It was just crazy."
Sale was a first-round selection for the Sox in the 2010 draft and was on the roster as a reliever just a few months after signing. He then spent all of last season as a lefty specialist, as well as being used as the closer at different times of the season. Sale was a starter in college and always wanted to get back to that role, so the Sox accommodated him this season.
"Everyone found out and everyone on the team was coming up and saying 'Congratulations,'" Sale said. "It's fun to see guys that have been there. I'll probably pick their brains a little bit."
He'll have some experience to pick from, with Konerko and Dunn -- 38 homers combined from the two this season -- making the trip to Kansas City with him. Konerko will make his sixth All-Star Game, while it will be the second for Dunn.
"I have a couple of good guys who have been there and can show me the ropes a little bit," Sale said. "It's been an incredible ride. I wish I could sit here and tell you I did this all by myself, but I've had two catchers behind the plate, the defense is behind me, (and the offense) scoring runs when I'm out there. Without those guys I wouldn't be sitting here right now."
As far as how the Sox will handle Sale's schedule leading up to the game, he was expected to start Tuesday and then Sunday, which is the finale before the All-Star Game. But there are talks about making some switches with the rotation leading into the break now.
"If I feel good, we'll go at it," Sale said. "Obviously, it's something we've got to sit down and talk about a little bit more. That's the last thing I'm thinking about right now. I'm just excited for the opportunity. It's something I've dreamed about for a long time, and it's here."