Posted on July 24, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
It didn’t take long for the Chicago White Sox to conduct an investigation and hand down a punishment following Saturday’s incident involving starting pitcher Chris Sale. Chicago’s ace has been suspended by the team for five days after an incident before Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers that reportedly involved the team’s throwback jerseys. Sale, who was scheduled to start Saturday’s game, was sent home before the game. Saturday will count as the first day of the suspension, which will conclude on Wednesday. He will not be allowed to be around the team during that time.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn released a statement Sunday that read: “Chris has been suspended for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment. While we all appreciate Chris’ talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organizational expectations.”
Sale was reportedly upset with the throwback jerseys the team was supposed to wear during Saturday’s game, calling them uncomfortable and accusing the team of caring more about PR than winning. According to reports, he cut up the jerseys during batting practice so they could not be worn. Hahn and Sale reportedly had a 30-minute conversation Saturday following the incident. The two spoke again for 10 minutes on Sunday after the team had decided to suspend him for five days.
After releasing the statement, Hahn then addressed the media in person. “Obviously we’re all extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this issue at this time both from the standpoint of the club as well as Chris’ perspective,” Hahn told reporters. “It’s unfortunate that it has become this level of an issue and potential distraction taking away from what we’re trying to accomplish on the field. It was a reasoned decision based upon his action within in the clubhouse. Later in the day, when he and I sat down and talked face-to-face and he explained the rationale behind his actions, he understood at that time, because of his actions, there was going to be discipline.”
Hahn added that Sale’s value is unaffected by his actions or the subsequent punishment. “The actions or behavior of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help this club win a championship and win multiple championships,” Hahn said. “It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value to this club, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events.”
Sale has become been the centerpiece of much trade talk and speculation over the last few days after Hahn insinuated that he was open to trading any player on the roster under the right circumstances. The White Sox GM has suggested it would take several high-level prospects for any team to trade for Sale. Hahn told reporters that at no point has Sale mentioned to him any desire to be traded away from the White Sox.
Manager Robin Ventura noted that this isn’t the first time Sale has been outspoken on an issue. Sale has disagreed openly with decisions made by both Ventura and the front office, and earlier this year he spoke about an issue involving Adam LaRoche that ultimately ended with LaRoche retiring. Ventura added that Sale remains one of the team’s leaders and that the incident is “nothing that can’t be smoothed over.”
Sale will return to the team on Thursday, and it’s possible he will make his next start Thursday night when the White Sox play their cross town rivals at Wrigley Field. However, Hahn said Sale’s next start is still to be decided. Of course, with all the trade talk surrounding him, it’s impossible to guarantee that Sale will still be a member of the White Sox when his suspension is over.