White Sox

Chris Sale: White Sox ‘got bold-faced lied to’ on Adam LaRoche situation

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Chris Sale: White Sox ‘got bold-faced lied to’ on Adam LaRoche situation

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale addressed the media on Friday morning to talk about the surprising retirement of Adam LaRoche and Tuesday’s morning meeting. Here’s a transcript of what the four-time All-Star pitcher said.

Question: Can you talk about Tuesday’s meeting and your interaction with Kenny Williams?

Chris Sale: Came in, team meeting, just trying to find some common ground and clearly it didn’t get there. It’s just one of the things that kind of happens in the game. You’re not always going to see eye to eye with everyone you work with and everybody within the organization and you move on.

Q: Talked to Kenny since that meeting?

A: I have not.

Q: You said common ground — did he come down here saying ‘We’d like to compromise on the new policy’ or is it, ‘This is the new policy’?

A: Yeah well, Kenny said quite a few things, contradicting statements a couple times. He came to the players, said it was the coaches. Went to the coaches, said it was the players and then came in here and told us it was the owner. So, we’re not exactly — who it’s coming from, where it originated from. That’s why we’re still trying to figure out where it all came from.

Q: If this happened before spring training and talked about it with the players do you think it would have had a better reception? 

A: No doubt. I think if the right person had handled it I think it would have been completely different. This isn’t us rebelling against rules. This is kind of us rebelling against BS, plain and simple. It’s not the fact we have a problem with the rules. We have to wear suits on the plane, we all dress up nice, carry ourselves in professional manners. But when it comes to what goes on in the clubhouse, the right person has to handle that and that’s Robin (Ventura). He’s the top, he’s the leader of this clubhouse ultimately and if there’s something that needs to be said in here he can say it and it’s taken with respect because he’s fighting with us. And quite honestly, he has taken heat for us before that he doesn’t deserve. So we have faith in him and we trust him.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Upset White Sox players considered boycotting game after Adam LaRoche retirement]

Q: Were you pretty outspoken in the meeting?

A: It’s neither here nor there. That’s not the issue and even the story that everyone is reading isn’t the issue. We have a much bigger problem on our hands than Kenny coming in here and kicking out a kid and Roachy retiring. That’s the unfortunate part of all of this. But at the end of the day it wasn’t the right thing. There was no problem in here. We were rolling. We had a team coming together with new guys getting acquainted and playing well, no hiccups, nothing. We’re a steam engine going full steam ahead and kind of derailed it. We had some positive energy going. There was absolutely no problem in here whatsoever with anyone and he kind of created a problem.

Q: Can one meeting and an apology turn things around?

A: I mean, we’re still missing a teammate plain and simple. Like I said, there was no issue before and we’re still trying to find out what the truth is.

Q: What’s the bigger problem?

A: Lying, plain and simple. We got bold-faced lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust. You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and tell the coaches it’s the players and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen. Like I said, we’re not rebelling against the rules. It has nothing to do with the rules. It’s a much deeper issue and all this negative attention around so much positivity that was here before. We were rolling. We were having a great time. You guys have seen it. The drills are crisp, everything was clicking. And it just took someone to come in here and throw a wrench in the plans.

Q: Why have these (jerseys) up here?

A: Because Drake is honestly one of the best kids I have ever met. You can ask anybody, anybody, that has ever played with Adam. And I think that’s another part of the issue. We’re not talking about some guy and his kid. We’re talking about Adam LaRoche. I dare you to find something negative about that guy from anybody he has played with or come across. Same thing with Drake. This kid is wise beyond his years. He’s mature beyond his years and quite honestly he was a blast to have around. He was, for the lack of a better term, our team mascot. He brought just as much energy to this clubhouse as anybody and it’s a hard pill to swallow for someone outside of the clubhouse to tell us what’s going to happen. We don’t go up to his office and tell him how to do his job.

Q: There’s reports that players complained about (Drake) to some extent?

A: I believe if a player had a problem with it they would have come to Adam or at least taken it to Robin. I think Robin was the right person to handle this and he was handcuffed.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Adam LaRoche retired after White Sox asked him to limit son's time with team]

Q: What are your concerns about how this affects the team moving forward?

A: We’re missing two big pieces to our puzzle, plain and simple. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be the main reason, but he’s definitely going to be missed and we’re not going to get him back.

Q: How frustrated are you that this happened at this point in time?

A: It’s extremely frustrating, especially when people tell you we’re here to win a championship and then stuff like this happens. If we’re truly here to win a championship and come together and play as a team and win as a team, these issues don’t come up. It’s just unfortunate. Somebody walked out those doors the other day and it was the wrong guy, plain and simple.

Q: Do you have more admiration now for Adam than you had even before?

A: No doubt. How can you not? Like I said, this is a bigger issue than being told that his son can’t be around and him walking away. I think that’s what everyone’s focus is. Everyone is focusing on the story that’s printed, but it’s a much deeper issue than that. I commend him, I stand behind him clearly 100 percent in his decision. Would I love to have him back? Absolutely. No doubt. And I think anybody in here would take him back in a heartbeat, would love to have him back in here. But at the same time, you have to respect a man that stands by his word and is not afraid to stand up in what he believes in.

Q: How do you move on as a team, organization?

A: We just keep trucking. We try to get back to where we were before this mess started. We were rolling. We had positive energy in here. Nobody saw anything as a distraction until all this happened. We just try to pick up the pieces, collect it all and put it back together and keep trucking.

Q: Can LaRoche come back?

A: I don’t know. I’m certainly staying optimistic about it.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Players supported Adam LaRoche, son in Tuesday meeting]

Q: Have you spoken to him? 

A: I have. I didn’t want to step on his toes clearly, but like I said, we would all love to have him back but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Q: The biggest issue is the trust issue and being told a lie from Kenny?

A: Yeah. When there’s a problem, you get to the source and find out what it is. We’ve been told three different stories. We don’t know what avenue to go down or who to believe from who it originated from.

Q: Three different stories as to where it originated?

A: Yeah. First it was the players that said something then it was the coaches that said something and now it’s the owner said something.

Q: And Kenny has given you all three stories?

A: Yes. Now we’re just as confused as you guys. You guys are looking at me like I have 17 eyes up here, but I’m not saying anything that isn’t the truth. I have no reason to. There’s no reason for me to sit here and lie about something that I witnessed and was a part of.

Q: Where does Kenny stand now with the guys in the clubhouse?

A: We don’t need to get into that. I’m not here to be disrespectful to anybody and call names. But I am here to state the facts and you guys got them.

Q: Hoping Mr. (Jerry) Reinsdorf might talk to you guys?

A: Yeah, I think that’s the ultimate goal is to talk to him and speak to someone with a level head and try to find some common ground, try to see where this came from. Jerry is a very understanding person and I think if we can get too him and speak to him and have an adult conversation. I think we’ll be able to figure some things out and iron out the creases.

Q: Why can’t a grievance be filed?

A: I don’t know anything about that. That’s really none of my concern. My concern is this team and the well-being of this team. I have a lot of time invested in this team, the whole blood, sweat and tears thing. I want to win and I think all of you guys know that and everyone in here knows that. With the things that are going on, that’s going to be a much harder task to accomplish, plain and simple.

Q: Will you continue to feel like a leader and somebody that has to do that for this team?

A: I believe so, yes. That’s the position I’m in. I have to speak for the people who don’t have voices. I have to speak for my teammates now. I have to speak for my teammates in the future. This is something that needs to be taken care of for the well being of the White Sox. Not just Adam. Not just me. This is something that could have a lasting impression for years to come and could affect future teams. I’m not a fan of that. If we are truly trying to win a championship, there’s no room for this kind of stuff.

Q: Can this hurt the team in free agency in the future?

A: I don’t see how it couldn’t. I don’t see why someone with a handful of offers on the table could look and say you know what, that’s a mess I want to go into. No. It’s unfortunate for everyone else involved because this ultimately comes down to the White Sox. This is Rick (Hahn) and Robin and Jerry and the players and the coaching staff are probably going to get heat for something they don’t deserve. Rick, I truly believe is trying to build a winning team. We have a lot of respect for that guy. We have a lot of respect for Robin because he’s leading the charge. We just don’t have room for outside distractions.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Q: This will be looked at as a coup, Kenny versus the team, the team versus Kenny. Is that an accurate portrayal?

A: I don’t think anyone in here has a problem with anybody else in the organization.

Q: The bottom line is Adam was promised he could have Drake around?

A: It was in his contract just like anything else. I think they would have had a better job saying, ‘Hey you can bring your son, but you have to play for free this year.’ I think that would have gone over a little bit better. It was as much of a guarantee as anything else.

Q: Is it more difficult for you to do the things you need to do to get ready with this?

A: Absolutely not. I have a team I have to stand by. I still have a job to do. It’s not these guys fault. I’m not going to take it out on them. We all have the same idea. And we are trying to achieve that. I can’t reiterate enough. It’s not us rebelling against rules. It’s us rebelling against things that don’t have a place in the clubhouse.

Q: Different story if Adam hits 30 home runs last year?

A: That’s another thing too. For us, it just seems like him trying to make rules just to make rules. Unfortunately, it shook out the way it did. It’s unfortunate. It really is. We are trying to win, we really are. We have a good thing going on in here, we really do. We have great guys and a great team. We just have got something in the way.

Q: Would this impact the way you look at staying in the organization?

A: I’m going to be here for a while. I still have a lot of time left in this uniform. I’m not shying away from playing as hard as I can in this uniform. This doesn’t have anything to do with my teammates or the organization. I’m still going to fight to my last breath for this team and for my teammates. But on the flip side I have to fight for our rights too and what is right and what is wrong and what is truth and what is false.

Adjust your White Sox free-agent wish list? Gerrit Cole's teammates predict he'll land in California

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USA TODAY

Adjust your White Sox free-agent wish list? Gerrit Cole's teammates predict he'll land in California

Gerrit Cole is rightfully at the top of many White Sox fans' free-agent wish list. But might those hopes already need adjusting?

Cole looks to be on track to land the richest pitching contract in baseball history when he hits free agency after the Houston Astros' playoff run is over. The White Sox are shopping for starting pitching, and what team wouldn't love to top their rotation with the guy who might be awarded the AL Cy Young?

But whether or not you're part of the Twitter-using faction of White Sox fans that believe the team would never spend such money to land a pitcher the caliber of Cole, it might not matter.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale spoke to a couple of Cole's fellow Astros, and they told him they think Cole will end up playing in California. The South Side, at least in the Astros' clubhouse, it seems, is not a betting favorite.

"It will be west of Nevada," outfielder Josh Reddick said. "We know he wants to be a West Coast guy. He’s a California guy, so he probably wants to be close to home. I know he mentioned Oakland a couple of times because of how he’s pitched there in the past. ... But that probably won’t happen. They’d have to clear the whole roster to afford him."

"I got the Angels," pitcher Wade Miley said, "and paying him at least $250 million."

Well then.

Certainly the Los Angeles Angels are not a new suggestion in the "where will Cole sign" discussion. Cole went to high school a 10-minute drive from Angel Stadium and pitched his college ball at UCLA. The Oakland Athletics? That's a new one.

Anyway, a lot of White Sox fans are probably out there thinking "here we go again" as we begin poring over every bit of minutiae in this winter's free-agent market, just like we did last offseason, when Manny Machado and Bryce Harper were both out there for the signing — and both White Sox targets. That months-long reading of the tea leaves, of course, was all kicked off when MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the White Sox interest during the GM Meetings in November.

So far, there's nothing out there connecting the White Sox to Cole besides pure speculation, that and the fact that Rick Hahn has said his front office will be in the market for starting pitching. Cole, being a starting pitcher, fits the minimum requirement as a potential target.

In fact, in listing a boatload of teams that might make a run at Cole this winter, Nightengale left the White Sox out. He mentioned four of the five California-based teams: the Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and every White Sox fan's favorite, the San Diego Padres, who landed Machado back in February. He also mentioned the Astros, the New York Yankees (who Cole will pitch against in game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday), the St. Louis Cardinals, the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers.

No White Sox.

There are plenty of other variables in this sweepstakes than just geography, and chief among them figures to be money. The White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility gained as a goal of the ongoing rebuilding process, but Hahn said that's not the most attractive element when it comes to free agents signing up to play on the South Side.

"The biggest advantage we have is the talent base we've accumulated so far and the excitement to come and be part of that," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference last month. "We do have some economic flexibility. That was part of the plan from the start. But I think if you're looking at advantages, a lot of teams have money. A lot of teams don't offer the ability to play with some of the players that are joining us here already and joining in the coming years and the opportunity to win a championship in a city like Chicago."

Whether that appeals to Cole or whether the White Sox will set their sights elsewhere remains to be seen. Certainly his fellow Astros' predictions aren't the be all, end all. Remember last winter when it was a foregone conclusion Machado would be a Yankee because he was a fan of that team growing up? Didn't work out that way. (It's here that I'll mention a pretty cool nugget in Nightengale's piece about Cole sitting in the front row cheering on the Yankees during the 2001 World Series. Is he destined to wear pinstripes because of it? No.)

For the White Sox, they certainly should chase Cole, who would count as the biggest free-agent splash in team history and do a heck of a lot to vault the team out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. But Hahn is hoping that whichever players he lands this winter can do that, along with the team's talented young core, and there are plenty of starting-pitching options out there not named Gerrit Cole: Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Wheeler and maybe even Stephen Strasburg. It's an impressive list of possibilities, one that remains impressive for the White Sox even if they fail to meet any imaginary Golden State requirement from Cole.

Even as Cole readies to face off against the Yankees in the ALCS, attempting to go 19-0 since he lost to the White Sox on May 22, his role as the star of the hot stove season is already beginning.

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MLB'ers think Lucas Giolito was one of the comeback-iest players in baseball this year

MLB'ers think Lucas Giolito was one of the comeback-iest players in baseball this year

It isn't "the" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, but it is "an" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

The MLB Players Association announced Monday that White Sox hurler Lucas Giolito is a finalist for its "Players Choice" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, voted on by the game's players. He was joined by outfielders Hunter Pence of the Texas Rangers and Jorge Soler of the Kansas City Royals. On the NL side, the three finalists were Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The whole "voted on by your peers" element is pretty cool, as certainly they know how different the 2019 version of Giolito was from the one they saw a year earlier. James McCann, who played against Giolito as a Detroit Tiger in 2018 and then caught him as the White Sox backstop in 2019, constantly talked about how transformed Giolito was from one year to the next.

A totally different pitcher.

That's precisely what Giolito seemed like to us non-player types, too, after he went from the worst statistics of any qualified pitcher in 2018 to an All Star and the ace of the South Side staff in 2019.

Giolito gave up more earned runs than any pitcher in the game in 2018, also leading the AL in walks during a season he finished with a 6.13 ERA. Then he went to work in the offseason, making mechanical changes and overhauling his mental approach to the game. It resulted in the kind of breakout season the prognosticators foresaw when they ranked him the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball once upon a time.

In 2019, Giolito posted a 3.41 ERA, went to the All-Star Game, struck out a whopping 228 batters — that particular feat accomplished by only two other pitchers in White Sox history — and will likely place somewhere in the AL Cy Young vote.

His season was highlighted by a pair of complete-game shutouts against two of the best teams in baseball, the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. Both shutouts came against 100-win teams on their own turf.

Presumably some Astros and Twins threw a few votes Giolito's way.

Giolito's status when it comes to "the" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award will be revealed next month, after the World Series is over. But for now, this is a pretty cool feather in the cap for him, another example of how far he's come.

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