The Chicago White Sox scratched ace Chris Sale from his scheduled start Saturday due to what general manager Rick Hahn referred to in his statement as a “clubhouse incident” prior to the game that was “non-physical in nature.”
Sale, his representatives, nor the White Sox, commented any further on the matter. The club is expected to comment on the situation after completing an investigation. This marks the second time this year Sale has been at the center of a media firestorm.
In March he was highly critical of White Sox vice president Kenny Williams in the wake of Adam LaRoche’s sudden retirement. LaRoche was at odds with the White Sox front office over how much time his 14-year-old son, Drake, should be allowed to spend in the clubhouse.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Saturday’s incident was between Sale and front office personnel:
The Chris Sale incident with #whitesox was with front/office staff, source says. No problems with any teammates.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 23, 2016
As confirmed by others, Sale was sent home after acting out on his desire to not wear a throwback uniform, first reported by Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports:
Not a joke: Source says Sale blowup was because he didn't want to wear throwbacks, so he cut the jerseys up so no one could wear them.
— Tommy Stokke (@StokkeTommy) July 23, 2016
Per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Sale believed the throwback uniforms took precedent over winning:
Sources say: Sale cut up throwbacks during batting practice. Upset that, in his view, PR and jersey sales were more important than winning.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2016
News of Sale being scratched began to surface prior to the White Sox issuing a statement. Naturally, it immediately led to trade speculation across social media. After initially appearing against it, the White Sox now seem open to trading Sale and Jose Quintana.
However, they are not inclined to move Sale without receiving a substantial haul in return. The Los Angeles Dodgers are among the teams expected to inquire on the five-time All-Star.
Though, for now it appears the Texas Rangers are leading the pursuit of Sale. The 27-year-old is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA, 3.69 FIP and 1.01 WHIP in 19 starts this season. Sale leads the American League with 133 innings pitched, is tied for first with three complete games, and ranks fifth with 129 strikeouts.