Scott Merkin reports that White Sox pitcher Chris Sale won’t make his Cactus League debut until March 19. There is nothing wrong with him — Sale is perfectly healthy — but the White Sox are wanting to keep from working him too hard. He’ll throw simulated games and bullpen sessions over the next couple weeks rather than appear in game action.
I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw more of this as time goes on. While teams are using more sophisticated means of monitoring and limiting workloads than pure innings limits and pitch counts, it’s still the case, I suspect, that the less work the better, at least early on.
All of which leads into a discussion of why spring training is as long as it is and why there are as many scheduled games as there are. Long ago spring training used to be far more informal — working out as opposed to properly-scheduled league action — but as spring training became more of a tourist draw it became more of a business and now there are a lot of financial reasons for the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues to schedule as many games as possible.
I can’t see that changing much, but if the consensus of thought in Major League Baseball settles on the idea that too rigorous a spring training schedule is a bad thing, I wonder what happens?