The White Sox have suspended their Ace, Chris Sale following a “non-physical, clubhouse incident.” Sale is eligible to return to the club for Thursday’s game against the Cubs. The team hasn’t announced whether Sale will make that start and, at this point at least, it seems a 50-50 proposition.
Surrounded by cameras and microphones, GM Rick Hahn spoke about the incident with reporters Sunday afternoon before the White Sox finished off a suspended game against the Tigers and started the fourth game in the series. Hahn touched on a number of things and prefaced his answers by saying he respected the sanctity of the clubhouse and would not get into specifics of what was said, to whom it was said, or, even, what was done.
The reports are out and the evidence is fairly clear. Sale seems to have had an issue of some sort with the throwback jerseys the Sox had planned to wear for the game. The uniform in question isn’t the sharpest looking but, perhaps because of it’s ugly duckling charm, fans have come to like it and the franchise has embraced the collar–while leaving the shorts in the ’70s.
Hahn also referenced the timing of the incident. With the August 1st trade deadline fast approaching, takes of every temperature were served up on Twitter concerning the White Sox Ace. Although the incident itself may have been reckless and childish, that changes little–if anything–about Sale’s importance to the White Sox or his value on the trade market.
I’ve mentioned a few times on White Sox Weekly that I don’t think the White Sox will move Chris Sale. I still believe that to be true. Teams have existed with players like Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent and even Delmon Young. That’s not to put Sale in any one category with any one of those players. Just a list to illustrate the spectrum of humans teams have employed, stood by and parted with. Baseball, like life, is littered with imperfect characters.
Sale, before this incident and after, has been mentioned with respect by his teammates and by management. Even when he hasn’t agreed with them. In fact, less than two hours before news of Sale’s being scratched for Saturday’s start came out, WLS’ Rachel Brady interviewed Paul Konerko. Konerko, in wondering who was going to catch his first pitch prior to Monday’s White Sox-Cubs matchup, hoped that Sale would be the man behind the plate for him. Konerko cited Sale’s leadership, love of the franchise and heartfelt desire to win here in Chicago as reasons he hoped for the lefty as his battery-mate.
I can’t excuse Sale for his actions. The White Sox haven’t and they put bite to their bark with the suspension. I do believe that, at least for his teammates, this will be water under the bridge very quickly. It has not changed the team’s desire to have him headline Opening Days for years to come. It will not make opposing GM’s think twice about trying to offer a giant package of players and prospects to pry Sale from the South Side. If (and I believe it’s a big, big if) the Sox decide to trade Sale, it will be a Godfather-type offer, not an altered perception of Sale, that informs the decision.