Just over two years since beginning his professional career, former Florida Gulf Coast University and current Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale can add major-league all-star to his growing list of accolades.
Sunday, Sale was selected to the American League roster after posting a 9-2 record and a league-leading 2.27 ERA. The left-hander has also amassed 94 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings since making the transition to the starting rotation this season.
"It's awesome," Sale told reporters after Sunday’s game against the Yankees. "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."
Because of Chicago’s current rotation, however, Sale will make his final start on July 8, so he will not be eligible to pitch in the actual game, which will be held on July 10 at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City.
Sale, Chicago's top draft pick in 2010 now in his third pro season, will still travel to Kansas City to take part in the festivities. He may petition the league to be able to pitch in the game, however.
"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."
The 23-year-old has already had some memorable moments this season. He was named the AL player of the month for May after going 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA and 35 strikeouts in five starts. On May 28, Sale struck out 15 Rays hitters in just seven innings. It was the second most in franchise history and the most by a Sox pitcher since Jack Harshman struck out 16 in 1954. On June 3, Sale picked up his first complete game as a pro after tossing a gem against the Seattle Mariners, scattering five hits and allowing just two earned runs.
“We knew he was going to be pretty special,” said Dave Tollet, his coach at FGCU. “It was just a matter of getting him to believe.”
The decision comes as bit of a surprise for Sale, who had originally planned to use the break to move stuff out of storage and fly down to his new home in Naples along with his father, Allen, who has his pilot license.
Joining Sale on the AL roster will be Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton who drew a record total of 11,073,744 fan votes. Fellow Rangers, catcher Mike Napoli and third baseman Adrian Beltre will join Hamilton as starters.
The Rangers, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants each had three players picked in fan balloting to start the game. Texas led all teams with seven total selections
Shortstop Derek Jeter, second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielder Curtis Granderson were chosen from the Yankees. Catcher Buster Posey, outfielder Melky Cabrera and third baseman Pablo Sandoval made it from the Giants.
Starter David Price and closer Fernando Rodney from Tampa Bay were chosen to be on AL staff. Giancarlo Stanton, the Miami Marlins’ lone representative, was chosen as a reserve for the National League squad.