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Chris Sale Suspended by White Sox After Clubhouse Incident

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale pauses on the mound during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Monday, July 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Associated Press

Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale did not take the mound Saturday for his scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers after a disagreement over the team's choice of jersey.

The White Sox released a statement on Twitter before the game against their division rivals, noting he was “sent home” because of a “clubhouse incident."

Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports cited a source who said the "blowup was because he didn't want to wear throwbacks, so he cut the jerseys up so no one could wear them." Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports confirmed the report, while Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports quoted a source who said, "Sale asked that they not wear (throwbacks) on his day because they are uncomfortable. Things escalated when they wouldn't relent."

Rosenthal also cited a source who said Sale had picked the jersey the team wore in each of his previous starts, which is something every White Sox starter has done this year. Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score added, "told Sale used a knife to do whatever cutting he did of uniforms."

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com previously reported the incident occurred with the team’s “front office/staff” and not any of Sale’s teammates.

On Sunday, Sale was suspended five days after the incident, per the White Sox:

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Chicago White Sox @whitesox

The #WhiteSox have suspended pitcher Chris Sale for five days after yesterday's clubhouse incident: https://t.co/xmMNTRSI19

This isn’t the first time Sale has had an issue with the front office. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported in March that the pitcher “accused executive vice president Ken Williams of lying to players” after Adam LaRoche retired before the season. LaRoche left the White Sox “after Williams informed him that he must limit” his son’s access to the clubhouse, per Nightengale.

ESPN Stats & Info said Matt Albers would start in the southpaw’s place. Albers has not started a game since 2008, when he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, but he does sport 42 appearances out of the bullpen this season with a 5.03 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 34 innings.

Given the fact the Aug. 1 trade deadline is quickly approaching, it was natural to speculate whether Sale was pulled because he was involved in a deal before the White Sox released their announcement.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network cited a source who said “Sale was not scratched due to a trade,” although Jon Morosi of MLB Network did point out “Sale being scratched does not mean White Sox have agreed to a trade, but it indicates talks have progressed with at least [one] team.”

Sale is one of the marquee players potentially on the trading block this year as a five-time All-Star who finished top-six in American League Cy Young award voting in each of the last four years.

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation cited a rival executive who called the asking price from the White Sox “prohibitive,” and Heyman noted the team was looking for “five top prospects” in exchange for Sale. TR Sullivan of MLB.com recently reported the Texas Rangers were putting forth a “serious effort” to land the dominant pitcher.

It is not just the fact Sale is such a talented hurler that is driving that possible market. He is also only 27 years old, in the middle of his prime and under team control through the 2019 campaign, per Spotrac. That would give whichever team landed him in a hypothetical trade a shutdown ace atop the rotation for years to come.

Sale boasts 19 starts on the season with a 3.18 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 133 innings. He led the American League with 274 strikeouts last year.

The White Sox entered Saturday’s game against Detroit with a 46-50 record, which was good enough for fourth place in the American League Central. They were 10.5 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians and don’t appear to be legitimate contenders this season, which could motivate them to deal the superstar pitcher.

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