Expect less from Chris Sale this year, at least in the beginning. The Red Sox ace struck out 26 batters with just two walks in 21 spring training innings last year — a dominant performance, even by Grapefruit League standards — and began the regular season with a 1.19 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 372?3 innings in April. Sale may not even throw that many innings before May this time around. The Sox will be watching his workload carefully in an attempt to preserve Sale’s stamina, and the new plan is geared toward keeping him fresh for September and, hopefully, October, when he began to fade in his first year with the ballclub, though still posting a 3.00 ERA in his final six starts. “I think once I got home (after the Division Series loss to the Houston Astros) I reflected on the season, and that was when it was like, ‘All right, something needs to change,’” Sale said yesterday at JetBlue Park. “I came into spring training a little too prepared. I felt like I had something to prove last year, too. I’m here in a new city with a new team and I felt like I had to prove myself again. I think that kind of came back to bite me in the end.” Most pitchers use spring training to work on specific pitches or mechanical issues. Sale used last year’s exhibitions to overpower hitters.