White Sox

Chris Sale's suspension 'does not move the needle' regarding his value to White Sox

Chris Sale's suspension 'does not move the needle' regarding his value to White Sox

The White Sox cut Chris Sale’s season short by five games on Sunday morning.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn formally announced that Sale was suspended five games retroactive to Saturday for insubordination and destroying team equipment.

Hahn didn’t disclose many details about the "clubhouse incident" or an evening meeting with Sale, who also played a leading role in a March clubhouse protest when Adam LaRoche abruptly retired after a dispute with management over the presence of his son in the clubhouse.

But according to a baseball source and multiple reports, Sale had his Saturday start scratched and was sent home early after he objected to wearing and then destroyed the promotional 1976 throwback jerseys the team was scheduled to don. Hahn declined to comment when asked if Sale used scissors to destroy the jerseys. But the actions of Sale — whose suspension concludes Wednesday and could pitch Thursday against the Cubs — merited discipline, Hahn said.

“Obviously, we’re all extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this issue at this time both from the the standpoint of the club as well as Chris’ perspective,” Hahn said. “It’s unfortunate that it has become this level of an issue and potential distraction taking away from what we’re trying to accomplish on the field. …

“We had perhaps the opportunity to discipline him back in spring and as an organization we decided to not do that. Yesterday crossed a different line.”

White Sox players and manager Robin Ventura left most of the discussion surrounding the event to Hahn, who said Sale could offer more details if he chooses when he returns.

Sale was not expected to be at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday. Ventura said he hadn’t spoken since Sale left the ballpark. Ventura called it a “tough day” and praised players who filled in. Though Sale may have to apologize to teammates, Ventura said the damage was far from irreparable.

“It’s nothing that can’t be smoothed over,” Ventura said. “This is not the first one. I think for him, he has the ability to come back here and pitch and carry on.”

Third baseman Todd Frazier declined to discuss whether the jerseys, which the team wore last season and have since been altered to improve comfort, were an issue. He also wouldn’t say whether or not he talked to Sale, only offering a brief summation of the events.

“It’s crazy,” Frazier said. “You talk to umpires during games and stuff and it’s like you think you’ve seen it all baseball-wise. It’s tough to talk about. It’s just something different.”

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White Sox pitcher James Shields said Sale has his teammates’ backing and that “sometimes emotions get the best of us.” He also said Sale continues to be a leader in the White Sox clubhouse — perhaps even more effective than Shields expected when he joined the club in early June.

“I’ve known Chris for years,” Shields said. “Now that I’ve gotten to be his teammate, he’s one of the better teammates I’ve been around. He’s definitely a team player. He’s a winner. He wants to take the ball every five days and win ballgames.”

With the Aug. 1 nonwaiver deadline eight days away, Hahn also dispelled the notion that Sale’s actions have left the relationship between himself and the club in disrepair. While Sale may have crossed a marker, Hahn said the five-time All-Star hasn’t passed the point of no return with the organization.

Much of the initial intrigue around the event surrounded trade speculation when Sale was scratched from his start. On Thursday, Hahn said the White Sox wouldn’t make any short-term additions before the deadline and that the club is “open-minded” to any and all competitors’ offers. Sale has reportedly drawn interest from several teams, including the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. But Hahn was adamant that as upsetting as Saturday’s events are, it wouldn’t have an impact on whether or not Sale is traded.

“The actions or behaviors of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help this club win a championship and win multiple championships,” Hahn said. “It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value to this club, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events.”

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: