BRADENTON, Fla. — After trading for Chris Sale, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said the club would familiarize itself with the left-hander in hopes of keeping him healthy through the postseason. As they do with everyone, the Braves will formulate a plan for Sale’s workload and how to keep him fresh deep into the season.

This has been a discussion point for everyone, from the team to media to fans.

Well, for everyone except Sale.

“If they want me to throw on four days’ rest, hand me the ball. If you want me to throw on five days’ rest, hand me the ball. If you want me to be in the bullpen, hand me the ball,” Sale said Tuesday after his Braves debut. “I like to just take my mind away from it. Whenever someone asks me to go pitch, go pitch. And everyone else can kind of figure all the ins and outs out for me.”

Sale believes the conversation about his workload simply is an opportunity for him to trust the people around him. You might think that because he is so competitive, he would have an opinion, but he only wants the ball. There are good and smart people with the Braves, he said, that will handle his plan. His job is to pitch his best.

On Tuesday, Sale turned in a terrific first act — even if it’s only Feb. 27 and anything can happen from here. No one knows how his tenure in Atlanta will go, but Sale provided encouraging signs for the future.

Over two perfect innings, Sale struck out four batters. He fanned the side in the second inning.

Sale hit 97 mph and 95 mph with his four-seam fastball in the second inning.

Sale threw 25 pitches, and 16 were strikes. He hurled 12 sliders, nine four-seam fastballs, three change-ups and one sinker. His four-seamer averaged 94.9 mph, his slider averaged 78.5 mph and his change-up averaged 86.1 mph. The Pirates swung at 11 of Sale’s pitches Tuesday, and whiffed on seven of them.

“Really good,” Sale said of how he’s feeling. “It’s still spring training, and I get that, but I want to use this like I’m preparing myself for the season, which is exactly what it is. You still don’t want to go out there and have a horrible spring training because then you get to the season, you really haven’t had anything to hang your hat on. Just happy with where I’m at and just want to keep moving that peg up the ladder.”

Given that Sale turns 35 years old next month and has an injury history over the past several years, it’s fair to wonder whether he can stay healthy. But the Braves will do everything they can to make sure of it. A comparison could come in Charlie Morton: The Braves give him extra rest whenever possible.

“Same way,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of how they’ll handle Sale. “We give everybody the extra day. Early on, I wasn’t a big proponent of that, just because I grew up here, where guys didn’t ever want an extra day. They wanted to stay on turn. But now that I’ve been around it, I think it’s great. And we do it to everybody. …

“And I think it’s great for a guy like Charlie. And Sale. I think it’s good for all those guys, really, because we’re trying to look at the big picture hoping we play deep into October.”

Snitker understands these guys are competitors. When he goes out to get Spencer Strider, he’ll often hear, “I want to keep going, I want to keep going.” His response is this: “I know you do, and I’m glad you can, but we’re kind of looking at the big picture. Not today.” The pitchers understand.

What have the Braves told Sale about their plan for him?

“Nothing,” Sale said. “I‘m a baseball player. I want to focus on that. I show up every day with a job to do. I know my routine. I know what I need to do in between days, on certain days. Logistics, business, all that stuff, we’ve got great guys to handle that. I show up, someone hands me the ball, I throw it until someone takes it away from me. That’s just my mindset, and that’s just gonna be the easiest way for me to stay clear and keep moving forward.”

The Braves are careful with both starters and relievers. Their relief pitchers don’t often pitch three days in a row. They’ll strategically pick spots for higher usage for certain pitchers.

“I think we take good care of our guys,” Snitker said. “They’re gonna get hurt, that’s gonna happen, but I think how we use them and look at it, it’s beneficial for us and the pitchers.”

On Tuesday, Sale struck out Oneil Cruz, then retired Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, in a clean first inning. In the second inning, he registered the first strikeout on a 97.1 mph four-seam fastball, another on a 96 mph four-seam fastball and the last on an 81.4 mph slider. He artfully utilized all of his weapons.

This was one of those times when you’re bummed that it’s spring training. It would’ve been fun for Sale to continue pitching. But these are tune-up outings, and the regular season isn’t for another four weeks.

Sale knows how fickle this can be. He was pleased about this outing, but added a qualifier.

“It can be gone the next one, right? Or I can have five in a row where it’s dialed in,” he said. “It’s a slippery slope to be on. What I will say is I’m happy with where I’m at. I want to keep continuing to kind of push that forward. As long as my command is there, my health is there, that’s going to give me the best chance to be successful.”

And when it comes to his workload throughout the long season, remember this: Sale doesn’t care about any specifics. He just wants the ball.

“I feel like I’ve always had a good crew in my corner to take care of me and see just how the season is going, how my performances are going and just kind of adapt off of that with what the plan is going to be off of that,” Sale said. “When you’re rolling, you don’t want an extra day. On the flip side of that, when you’re not rolling, you want to get out there quicker. We’re athletes, we’re competitive. If you ask anybody that has any weight, they wanna go play. I’m gonna trust these guys and whatever that plan is, it is.”


Braves at Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m., 1340, 103.7