GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — It would have been easy for Chris Sale to vent 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 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).
Four times he gave up one run or fewer and either took the loss or didn't figure in the decision. There was also a 14-strikeout game in which he fell 2-1 to Houston last June.
"He's even-keeled," reliever Matt Lindstrom said. "Chris gets it. He's mature for being 23, 24 years old. He's been around veteran players like Jake (Peavy), John (Danks), Adam (Dunn) and they've kind of shown him the ropes, and he knows what he needs to do.
"He knows what kind of a clubhouse presence he needs to have, especially now that he's going to be with the White Sox long term. He gets it. He gets it for a young kid. He's got a good head on his shoulders."
But it was difficult at times for him last season. There he was dominating with few wins to show for it, the product of playing on a struggling team.
The White Sox went from hitting 211 homers to 148 last season and had their run total drop from 748 to 598, last in the American League. With little support at the plate, pitching coach Don Cooper could sense Sale pressing on at least one occasion.