For roughly a half-hour Saturday, it looked as though Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was about to be traded. He was scratched from his start due to the flu, but he wasn’t actually sick. Fans of the game seemed pretty shocked that Sale might actually be on the move.
What actually happened was even more surprising. Sale was scratched from his start after it was revealed he cut up the team’s vintage jerseys because he didn’t want to wear them. It was a bizarre situation in which neither the White Sox nor Sale were willing to shed light on.
That changed Monday, as Sale gave his first interview since the incident. Sale spoke to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, and made it clear that he wants to remain with the White Sox.
“I want to win a championship in Chicago. That’s been my goal from Day 1,” Sale told MLB.com Monday afternoon during a 30-minute interview, his first public comments since Saturday. “It has never changed. I only get more passionate about it because I know that it’s not easy winning a championship. There’s a lot that goes into it.
“Our main focus should be winning. I know that every single player comes in ready to win every day. I can’t speak on anybody else. … I don’t think I would be traded. I don’t know for sure. I don’t know what they are thinking now or what’s going on.”
As for the uniforms, Sale explained that he believes ’76 throwbacks are uncomfortable. When he found out he would have to wear them, he asked both the clubhouse manager and pitching coach Don Cooper if the club could wear a different jersey.
Those pleas fell on deaf ears, and when the ’76 uniforms were laid out on the day of Sale’s start, he took the issue to Cooper and White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
“When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue,” Sale said. “I tried to bring it up and say, ‘Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,’ and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I’ll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game.
“[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”
Sale did feel bad that he let down fans, but made it clear he does not regret his decision to stand up for his beliefs.
Ventura made the decision to scratch Sale, and Sale apologized Monday to the fans who came to see him and to his teammates, especially the bullpen, who he said he owes big time for their carrying the team in his place.
“I have regret, because I play 33 times a year at most in the regular season. So I put a lot of emphasis on when I play and I take a lot of pride in work that I do,” Sale said. “When I can’t or don’t do that, yeah, I have disappointment in myself for not being there for my guys.
“Do I regret standing up for what I believe in? Absolutely not. Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”
From the sound of the article, Sale admitted he did not handle himself well in front of Ventura. That interaction may lead to some future awkwardness between the two. Sale didn’t exactly go to bat for Robin when asked about the situation.
“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”
As far as Ventura, well, he certainly made it seem like his relationship with Sale was unresolved.
Sale worked out Monday at the ballpark and said he did not think he and Ventura needed a sitdown. But their working relationship might have been altered.
“We’ll find out when he gets back,” Ventura said.
It’s not the first time Sale has been at odds with the organization. He went on a verbal tirade against team president Kenny Williams during spring training after Williams told first baseman Adam LaRoche he could no longer bring his kid around the clubhouse. LaRoche retired, leaving $13 million on the table, due to the request. Sale was not disciplined for his outburst.
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That’s not the case this time around. The team suspended Sale for five games. He’s due to return to the club and make his next start Thursday. The end of the suspension would normally signal the end of bad blood between both sides, but irreparable damage may have been done this time around.
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