UPDATE: SUNDAY, 1 P.M.: The White Sox have suspended Chris Sale for five days (including Saturday) for the incident. Read more here.
BOSTON - Chris Sale -- the American League starting pitcher in the All-Star Game -- was a late scratch and sent home before his scheduled Saturday start.
This of course comes after the White Sox have begun to listen to offers for their bonafide ace -- including the Red Sox.
Preceding the game, the White Sox released a statement from senior vice president/general manager Rick Hahn explaining that Sale’s removal was “due to a clubhouse incident before the game.”
After ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the altercation was with staff from the front office and had nothing to do with his teammates, there was another report that the issue pertained to the throwback uniforms the White Sox planned to wear for Saturday’s game.
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
Fox’s Ken Rosenthal has additionally been told the issue “was bigger than that.”
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
Sale is a huge addition to any starting rotation -- never mind the Red Sox staff.
His stats are without a doubt impressive. An All-Star every season since 2012 thanks to his career 2.95 ERA and 10.1 K/9 -- this year posting a 3.18 ERA and 8.7 K/9.
But numbers can be deceiving -- especially with players playing for a small market club. That’s not the case with Sale though. While the White Sox haven’t contended in the postseason with the lefty, there’s no denying that Chicago isn’t a small market by any means.
The jump from Chicago to Boston is nothing compared to players coming from places like Miami or Atlanta -- or San Diego. So Sale presents a good fit in terms of approach -- in addition to having good stuff.
The incident makes Sale come across as a prima donna, the fact that the issue went past the uniforms shows there could be a deeper issue at hand -- and not so much an indictment of his mental make-up.
Additionally, this altercation could open the door to get Sale at a lower value. If it was that bad that he was sent home, it could take a lot more than a stern talk and hand shakes to resolve the issue, giving interested teams a much better chance to obtain the Cy Young candidate.
However, if the Red Sox do manage to strike a deal with the White Sox, they’d be wise to throw someone else on throwback nights.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar