The Chicago White Sox’ announcement that Chris Sale was being scratched from Saturday’s start for a “non-physical” clubhouse incident sent shock waves around Major League Baseball. With the MLB trade deadline just a week away, how would this affect one of the league’s most valuable pitchers, one whom the Sox were reportedly looking to deal for a big return? Had a deal been reached? How would teams interested in Sale’s services react to the incident?
More immediately, though, what exactly happened in the clubhouse before Saturday’s game against the Tigers? Was Sale just getting into some heated arguments about his pending trade?
Nah. Apparently he just didn’t dig his outfit.
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
A statement released by General Manager Rick Hahn less than 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch said the incident was “non-physical in nature” and was being investigated by the club. Multiple reports indicated the incident involved the 1976 throwback uniforms the Sox were supposed to wear Saturday. Sale reportedly found the uniforms uncomfortable and cut them up during batting practice. All of them. The whole team’s.
The Sox ended up emerging from the dugout in their 1983 throwbacks instead.
Yup, it's true. Chris Sale got sent home by White Sox for cutting up a jersey he didn't want to wear. Source confirms @StokkeTommy report.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 24, 2016
Finally, told Sale used a knife to do whatever cutting he did of uniforms. Which really shouldn't add to the story but somehow does.
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) July 24, 2016
Source: "Sale asked that they not wear (throwbacks) on his day because they are uncomfortable. Things escalated when they wouldn't relent."
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2016
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
— Tha Basement Boys (@ThaBasementBoys) July 24, 2016
The White Sox clubhouse was open to reporters for only 20 minutes before it was closed for a team meeting before the game. Sale was in the clubhouse before the game but was unavailable for interviews.
Reliever Matt Albers started in the five-time all-star’s place. The crowd at U.S. Cellular Field booed when Albers was announced as the Sox’ starter.
The Sox entered Saturday’s game in fourth place in the AL Central with a 46-50 record, 10 1/2 games out of first. Approaching the Aug. 1 deadline, Hahn recently told reporters he would be “open-minded” to all trade scenarios, with the exception of short-term rentals. Chicago was reportedly asking for a massive haul in return for Sale — one source told ESPN.com that the Sox were seeking five to seven prospects for his services.
It’s no secret that Sale has had strained relations with the Sox front office for some time. This marks at least the fourth time the flame-throwing southpaw has irked management, his most recent tirade coming in March when he lashed out at executive vice president Ken Williams for telling Adam LaRoche that he couldn’t bring his son, Drake, into the clubhouse as much. Sale reportedly called Williams a “bold-faced liar” that day and told him to stay out of the clubhouse.
Apparently this isn’t the first time a Sox player has taken issue with the team’s lamentable ’70s throwbacks. In 2001 players refused to wear them during a game in Toronto when they weren’t tailored in time, forcing them to take the field with retro caps and modern alternate jerseys.
No photos of the 2001 incident other than this. Can't see front of the cap, but notice there's no MLB logo on back. pic.twitter.com/GkgmP1e1zI
— Chris Creamer (@sportslogosnet) July 24, 2016
Deranged as this knife-wielding uniform-slasher may be, can we really blame him for sparing us of this unsightly scene Saturday?
Maybe they wanted him to pitch in these? pic.twitter.com/mbbrc1pFwH
— F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) July 23, 2016
Chris Sale might have had a point … pic.twitter.com/C80m5qdgCp
— Max Lederman (@Max_Lederman) July 24, 2016
Now, just imagine what Sale would have done to these bad boys.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 23, 2016
The Class AAA Fresno Grizzlies and Lehigh Valley IronPigs had hilarious takes when discussing Sale’s decision to destroy uniforms.
Good thing Chris Sale never played for us. pic.twitter.com/LayGcbaErs
— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) July 24, 2016
Sale is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA this season. He led the AL last year with 274 strikeouts.