DETROIT -- The White Sox head into their first meeting with the Detroit Tigers believing that last season’s Chris Sale/Victor Martinez incident is in the past.
They expect no carryover from the extra curricular activities from their final meeting of 2014, when Sale hit Martinez with a sixth-inning pitch and benches emptied, though no punches were thrown.
“We’re here to play baseball,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said quickly when asked if expected any trouble. “You guys can carry on what you want, but we’re here to win a game.”
Things got heated last Sept. 24 when Sale struck Martinez in the left shoulder with a pitch in the designated hitter’s third plate appearance. Martinez stared at Sale as he walked to first base and Sale interacted, pointing toward center field as he had earlier in the game after he struck out the Tigers slugger. The benches and bullpens cleared but both teams left the field without further incident. After he left the game, Sale -- who didn’t comment on Friday morning -- made what appeared to be binoculars with his hands from the bench, a move Detroit players later mocked during a game-winning rally.
[MORE WHITE SOX: Carlos Rodon not as sharp in second AAA start]
Both Sale and his teammates denied that they suspected Martinez of getting outside help from anyone with binoculars.
“I think that was heat of the battle, in the game kind of thing,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We haven’t discussed it since that time.
“I think (it’s over). I guess we all will find out. To my knowledge, nothing has been brought up about it.
“I think that was the heat of the battle toward the end of a long a competitive season playing against each other, beating each other up. That was just part of it during that game.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]
Locked in a tight pennant race, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was incensed that an opposing pitcher could potentially injure one of his players at a time when his own pitchers couldn’t retaliate for fear of a suspension.
Ventura, who spoke to Ausmus after that game and again over the winter, downplayed the possibility of any potential retaliation. Martinez isn’t in Detroit’s lineup on Friday and Sale is expected to start here on Saturday.
“We’re here to play baseball,” Ventura said. “Everybody else can scare up whatever they want.”