Ready to be shocked? (Not really)
The Boston Red Sox are enamored with Chris Sale. They couldn’t be happier with their end of the December blockbuster trade that brought elite-prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech to the White Sox.
Not only has the five-time All-Star been outstanding on the field, but the Red Sox have also quickly discovered what the White Sox long knew — Sale is as good of a teammate as he is a pitcher. Sale is set to pitch at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night for the first time since he was traded by the White Sox in an intriguing matchup against Jose Quintana. Whether it’s his new team or his old, players and managers on both sides have spent the past two days singing Sale’s praises.
“It’s more about the person — the true competitor that he is, the great teammate that he has shown (to be) since he has come into our uniform,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s about one thing and that’s about winning. We’re grateful he’s in our uniform, he’s off to a fantastic start for us and when I say about the teammate, he’s had an impact on Eddie Rodriguez and Rick Porcello. Chris has been everything and more than what we could have hoped.”
The White Sox aren’t surprised by this. They knew in order to jumpstart their rebuild they would have to make an impossibly difficult move and trade one of their stars. They knew there’d be nothing easy about trading Sale, who meant much more to them than just on the field.
In seven seasons, Sale went from rookie to budding star to being revered as a teammate.
Current White Sox players have spewed endless platitudes about Sale the past few days.
James Shields played with Sale only a few months and knew enough to describe the left-hander as one of his best teammates ever along with David Price. Jose Quintana said he misses Sale’s energy around the clubhouse while Nate Jones lauded Sale for standing up for what he believes in.
“He ingratiated himself with a lot of people,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There were a lot of positive things about Sale that I think everyone should remember. I think we do. He impacted us as an organization in an immense way. I was only here for a year [with him], so I wasn’t able to see the totality of his body of work and the many people he touched, but he touched a lot of people. I think the White Sox were better for having him.”
[VIVID SEATS: Get your White Sox tickets here]
Sale not only was a vocal leader, but he provided an example for other pitchers of what the combination of outstanding talent and strong work ethic can become. Pitching coach Don Cooper had a sense back in 2010 that Sale was progressing into “the baddest ass lefty in the league” after he shut down Joe Mauer. Cooper said no personnel move has surprised him since Mark Buehrle was allowed to leave via free agency. But that realization that baseball is a business doesn’t make the reality any easier for players or coaches.
“When you start to establish a relationship for a long time with somebody, you miss the everyday interaction, whatever we’re talking about, whether it’s baseball or something else,” Cooper said. “You miss that.”
They may miss it, but at least for Tuesday Sale is the opposition. So while White Sox players visited with Sale on Sunday night and Monday and are sure to see him on Wednesday, everyone is acting as if Tuesday is the same as any other game — except for the part where a friendly and familiar face is on the mound.
“That’s going to be the different part,” Jones said. “He’s going to have a different uniform, but since he’s got that on, he’s the enemy a little bit. That’s going to be different. But honestly we all wish him the best. Hope he does well. We’ll see how Tuesday goes.”