GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While endorsing Jake Peavy to be the Opening Day starter, Chris Sale beamed at the thought of taking the ball himself.
"That would be crazy,'' Sale said Tuesday, as White Sox pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. "I would be speechless if it came to that. But as I've said before if anyone deserves that it's Peavy. He's the leader of the team and our pitching staff and he has the resume to do it. We all have our faith and trust in him and he's our guy.''
Sale was 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in his first year as a starter. He was generally regarded as the ace last year, when he threw 192 innings and made 29 starts. This year he wants to make 30 starts or more and pitch 200 innings.
"That's kind of the benchmark for everybody, make  starts and throw 200 innings and be a reliable pitcher,'' Sale said. "I don't put expectations on anything, just try to live it day by day and whatever comes up.''
Sale shrugged off "the Verducci effect,'' a non-scientific look by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci at the risk for pitchers after a big innings jump. Last year, Verducci identified 14 young pitchers coming off workload increases of 30 innings or more. Nine were either injured or regressed performance-wise: Derek Holland, Dylan Axelrod, Jaime García, Liam Hendricks, Eric Surkamp, Chris Schwinden, Daniel Hudson, Zach Stewart and Michael Piñeda.
Sale tops his list this year.
"You have to pay attention to your body,'' Sale said. "I don't keep that stuff in mind at all. I don't think about going out there and blowing my arm up or anything like that. Obviously it's a long season and you're throwing a lot. You have to make sure everything is intact and moving right. Pay attention to your body and know what's going on and how it feels on a given day and know when enough is enough and when you can throw some more.''
Manager Robin Ventura has said Sale will be eased through spring training, which is longer than usual because of the World Baseball Classic.
"I felt like I learned a lot last year, not just about myself but about baseball and the game in general,'' Sale said. "I know how my body feels and stuff like that but I have a better feel for situations and different things that come up during ballgames. It's a learning experience. You're always adjusting, so keep your mind open and see what works.''