Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale has dominated MLB headlines in the dog days of summer, both as a potential trade target and someone who reportedly cut up his team's throwback uniforms instead of wearing one when he was scheduled to pitch Saturday.
Sale made his first public comments about the incident Monday, per Scott Merkin of MLB.com:
When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue. I tried to bring it up and say, 'Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,' and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I'll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game.
[The '76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.
Merkin noted Sale was told about the decision to wear the 1976 throwbacks the day before his scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers. Sale reportedly told the clubhouse manager and pitching coach Don Cooper he would rather wear the 1983 jerseys, and he discussed the issue again with Cooper and manager Robin Ventura on Saturday.
Sale then reportedly cut up the jerseys when "he did not get the answer he wanted," per Merkin. The left-hander issued perhaps his most telling quote Monday when discussing his manager, suggesting Ventura did not seem to have his back, per Merkin:
Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department. If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it.
It's understandable for a player to put winning over the business side of baseball, even if the throwbacks are fan favorites and may encourage more people to come to the ballpark or watch a game.
But Sale has had a few issues with management this season. In spring training, he said executive vice president Ken Williams lied to him and his teammates following Adam LaRoche's retirement, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. LaRoche elected to retire after Williams told him he had to reduce his son's time in the clubhouse.
Sale's relationship with the front office may come into play again before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline if the team deals him with an eye toward the future.
On Saturday, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reported it may take up to "five top prospects" to lure Sale from the 49-50 White Sox.
"I don't think I would be traded," Sale said, per Merkin. "I don't know for sure. I don't know what they are thinking now or what's going on."
Sale didn't sound like someone who wanted to be shipped out of the Windy City, either: "I want to win a championship in Chicago. That's been my goal from Day 1. It has never changed. I only get more passionate about it because I know that it's not easy winning a championship."
If the White Sox were to fulfill that desire and win a World Series, Sale would likely be a major part of it. The southpaw is a five-time All-Star and has finished in the top six in American League Cy Young Award balloting in four consecutive seasons.
He is also only 27 years old and sports a 14-3 record, 3.18 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 133 innings this season. While his dominance on the mound has taken a back seat in terms of storylines, he should have a chance to get back to his winning ways for Chicago when his suspension ends later this week.