Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from his start against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night and sent home after he destroyed collared throwback uniforms that the team was scheduled to wear.
Matt Albers, who started in Sale’s place, confirmed the incident, but the White Sox provided no details after their game against Detroit was suspended by rain after eight innings tied at 3 – the game will resume Sunday before the series finale.
“You probably know what happened,” Albers said. “But we’re going to keep it in-house.”
FanRag Sports first reported Sale was protesting the 1976 jerseys, which were navy and sported unusual collars. It was 91 degrees with high humidity when the game began.
Sale then cut up an unknown number of jerseys before the game and was told to leave the stadium. Albers said he was informed about 2 hours before the game that he would start.
“He’s one of the best, absolutely,” Albers said. “But we’re here for teammates. We’re here to pick each other up in good times and bad.”
With not enough usable 1976 jerseys available, the White Sox wore white throwback uniforms from the 1983 season.
It’s uncertain if Sale, 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA, will face further discipline.
“I’m not going to get into that,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I just know he’s not going to pitch tomorrow.”
The White Sox didn’t announce Sale was scratched until less than a half hour before the scheduled first pitch.
“The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club,” general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “The White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed.”
The White Sox marketing department touted the night as the “Throwback Game.” It announced the team would wear collared, blue and white V-neck jerseys that were sometimes worn with shorts in the 1976 season under offbeat owner Bill Veeck.
The crowd booed when Albers was announced as the starter while the teams warmed up. He pitched two innings and the White Sox used six pitchers before the game was suspended following the third rain delay of the night.
With the White Sox fading from playoff contention, Sale’s name has been mentioned as a possible trade target for contending teams.
The left-hander, known for his competitive streak and rigorous training program, has been outspoken in the past.
Sale was openly critical of team president Ken Williams during spring training when he said Drake LaRoche, the son of teammate Adam LaRoche, would no longer be allowed in the clubhouse. Adam LaRoche retired as a result, and Sale hung the LaRoches’ jerseys in his locker.
The 27-year-old Sale was the 13th overall pick out of Florida Gulf Coast in 2010 and has been selected as an All-Star five times. He started for the American League in this month’s All-Star Game.
Sale is 71-43 in his career and entered the day leading the majors with 133 innings pitched and three complete games.
In his last outing Monday, Sale allowed one hit over eight shutout innings before closer David Robertson gave up four runs in the ninth in Chicago’s loss to Seattle.
The White Sox, who started 23-10, have dropped eight of nine games and are in fourth place in the AL Central, creating speculation that Sale and fellow lefty Jose Quintana could be dealt.
“I want to stay here,” Quintana said before the game. “I like it here, and I want to win here. And I’m here. I’m here for now.”
Sale has also said he’d like to stay in Chicago. But Tigers GM Al Avila said before the game that many teams are looking for starting pitching.
“Yet there are not as many good starting pitchers available,” Avila said. “And the guys that may come available are going to come at a steep price.”
Hahn said Thursday the White Sox were “mired in mediocrity” and hinted at possible big roster changes.
“You’ve just got to be professional and play baseball. That’s it,” Frazier said of the trade discussion. “Control what you can control, that’s playing the game.”