While touring the MLB Fan Cave, White Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Addison Reed saw just about everything. They signed their names to the signing wall and hung out in the party lounge. They also learned the ins and outs of the gong and orange slide that Cave Dwellers use to signal each home run. Of course, they were asked if they wanted to use either one of the props.
"You shouldn't have even asked me that," Sale said. "Of course I want to ride. Can I ring the gong too?"
He did, and it was one of the few times the sound rang for Sale all year, as he continues his dominant season as a starter.
With a 2.27 ERA and 94 strikeouts, the third-year starter out of Florida Gulf Coast is a shoo-in for the 2012 All-Star Game. One of the skits that he performed featured Sale commenting on how excited he is about the experience. After stumbling early on, he fell into his "Jon Hamm" impersonation and said he is looking forward to one of Kansas City's famous staples.
"BBQ is never bad," Sale said. "You can't beat it there. That's one of those places where you can eat until you get sick."
Reed likely won't join his friend in Kansas City, but got in some hang time with Sale at the Fan Cave. He said the three-floor baseball paradise might serve as some interior designing inspiration.
"There's so many different things in here to have fun with," Reed said. "I could definitely -- after I'm done playing -- have a set up like this. Just watch every game and watch games all day. I honestly don't think there's one [best] thing you can pick out. It's unbelievable."
Sale agreed, saying the visit was a long time coming for both of them. He usually likes to walk around New York City during the team's away series, but this was his first opportunity to see the Fan Cave in person.
"We saw this place on TV, and a couple of guys on our team came here last year and said it was a good time," Sale said. "We couldn't pass it up."
It was good timing for the pitchers, as they're in the middle of strong seasons heading into the All-Star break. After closing out the series opener against the Yankees the day before, it was probably good to blow off some steam. The White Sox won that game 4-3, and Reed gave up one single in one inning pitched.
It wasn't anything new for Reed. While attending San Diego State, he pitched relief for Stephen Strasburg. He said the job was a great gig.
"When he threw, most of us didn't have to worry about getting in the game," Reed said. "It was awesome when he threw because we'd all get a day off."
He commented what it meant for him to close out the game.
"Just having the opportunity to close, it's on those same lines as getting my first save there in Detroit," Reed said. "It's something I'll remember."
The White Sox are in the midst of a three-game win streak following their comeback win against the Yankees on Thursday. Their team currently sits on top of the American League Central with a 41-35 record. That probably helped build the case for manager Robin Ventura to allow a little extra Skee-Ball and video gaming. Sale said it all fits inside his strategy this year for staying focused on the mound. He said it's all about staying comfortable.
"I just found things that got me to where I need to be, to get me ready," Sale said. "The day after I pitched, I got a workout regimen, a shoulder program, running."
It's a lot easier when your coach is on the same wavelength. Sale said Ventura's even-keel approach throughout the season also helps.
"He's not throwing parties when we win, but he's not screaming and cussing us out when we lose," Sale said.
Reed added that having a former player as a coach adds an additional level of comfort.
"The way he played on the field, he kind of brings that to managing," Reed said. "He keeps everyone loose, and at the same time expects you to give 110 percent."
That's good news for the MLB Cave Dwellers who got to interact with the two stars all afternoon. After shooting skits, giving their usual tour, and giving the occasional "trust fall," they went back to watching baseball as usual. That's something Sale says he usually avoids in his off time.
"When we're sitting in the clubhouse with MLB.TV and ESPN on, we'll watch games and stuff like that," Sale said. "Usually when I get home, I'm playing video games, or hanging out or whatever. I try to get away from the game for a little bit."
It's just as good to get away from the negative topics that were a theme for the team early on. Questions about their pitching staff and rotation have fallen away, as Reed has fit into his relief role well. Sale has also come onto the scene as an early favorite for a Cy Young Award.
"We're not stressing out too much -- we're kind of letting what everybody said at the beginning of the year go in one ear and out the other," Reed said. "We're just having fun. We know what to do, and we're just playing the game."
Gary Cotton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.