MESA, Ariz. -- Rick Hahn’s voicemail box has a few new inquires about Chris Sale’s availability.
Rival general managers shouldn’t hold their collective breath waiting for a return call.
Even though the perception exists they may entertain a trade for Sale, multiple baseball sources confirmed that the White Sox GM has no interest in such a deal.
Long the team’s most coveted asset, Sale is once again the subject of trade speculation after a Friday outburst in which he ripped executive vice president Kenny Williams after the retirement of Adam LaRoche.
But Hahn -- who doesn’t comment on trade rumors -- has privately signaled again that the White Sox have no interest in dealing their ace. Bookended by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s Sunday statement, the White Sox have made it apparent for several days they want to put the pieces back together after the unforeseen retirement of LaRoche sent their camp into chaos.
“Nothing has changed in terms of our direction or expectations for the upcoming season,” Hahn said in an email. “We remain committed to putting this current club in as good a position as possible to contend this year.”
Their best position to compete is one with Sale at the forefront.
He put his opinions aside Saturday and his focus back to the field as he made his first Cactus League start. Sale pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs as the White Sox topped the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2.
A day after -- among other topics -- he suggested his strong opinions wouldn’t get in the way of his performance, Sale backed up those assertions following Saturday’s start.
“From (today) forward, we’re showing up to play baseball,” Sale said. “I don’t think there’s anything else to talk about. We have a job to do and I think going forward, moving forward, that’s what we’re here for.”
Multiple players have suggested the White Sox believe they can get back on track. They know there is work to be done. But the White Sox still have another 16 days before Opening Day to smooth things out.
“It has been crazy, there’s been a lot of things going on, but I don’t think as a team and as players that anybody’s goals have changed,” reliever Zach Putnam said early Sunday morning. “Especially right now, kind of on the other end of everything that has happened, guys are extra focused.”
The White Sox know Sale has an explosive side. Reinsdorf might as well have identified Sale directly when he noted in a Sunday statement that he appreciates “the passion and commitment to one another shown by our players.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Although this most recent incident has the highest profile, the White Sox have seen this side of Sale before and they have no intention of changing the way the face of their franchise operates. Sure, they’ll talk to Sale privately and perhaps try to work with him on how to handle future disagreements.
But they wouldn’t try to silence their ace; they know this is the same part of his personality that has allowed him to develop into an elite pitcher.
They know exactly who Sale is and how much he brings to the club.
In short, if the 2016 White Sox are going anywhere, Sale’s going to be on board.
“He has an opinion, he has a right to talk about it and I don’t think that’s going to stop as far as guys having opinions and speaking their minds,” manager Robin Ventura said on Saturday.