Sale suspended five days by White Sox

Left-hander penalized for 'violating team rules, insubordination, destroying team equipment'

Sale suspended five days by White Sox

CHICAGO -- The White Sox have suspended pitcher Chris Sale for five days after concluding the club's investigation into a clubhouse incident prior to Saturday's game with the Detroit Tigers.

This suspension, announced by the team Sunday morning and based solely on Saturday's actions, began Saturday and runs through Wednesday. Sale would be eligible to start Thursday night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, but general manager Rick Hahn said that slot currently will be listed as TBA.

Hahn spoke with Sale for 30 minutes Saturday following the incident, which a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi stemmed in part from Sale protesting the use of throwback jerseys, which was tied into a jersey giveaway for fans. The quote from Hahn on Sunday's press release referred to "violating team rules, insubordination and destroying team equipment" as the reasons for suspension, an organizational call in which Hahn had conversations with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, executive vice president Ken Williams and Major League Baseball.

A 10-minute conversation took place between Hahn and Sale on Sunday when the suspension was announced to Sale, who was not at U.S. Cellular Field.

"Obviously we're all extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this issue at this time both from the standpoint of the club as well as Chris' perspective," said Hahn during his Sunday meeting with the media. "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.

"It was a reasoned decision based upon his action within in the clubhouse. Later in the day, when he and I sat down and talked face-to-face and he explained the rationale behind his actions, he understood at that time, because of his actions, there was going to be discipline."

Sale (14-3) was supposed to start Saturday's game, suspended by rain after eight innings with the score tied at 3. Instead, he was sent home after the pregame incident in the home clubhouse. Sale, who also was fined an undisclosed amount, has been placed on Major League Baseball's suspended list. (The White Sox won, 4-3, when the suspended game resumed play on Sunday.)

Back in Spring Training, Sale also was the focus of attention when he criticized Williams for limiting Drake LaRoche's clubhouse and on-field access that eventually connected to the retirement of Drake's father, Adam LaRoche. Sale also took issue with the team not bringing back Tyler Flowers -- the lone man to catch a Sale pitch in 2014 and '15 -- during the offseason, and he had a clear-the-air talk with Hahn by phone the day after the move.

Sale had a clubhouse disagreement with manager Robin Ventura at the end of the 2014 season, in which he was sent home to cool down and then tried to get into the Royals' clubhouse in April of last season after a bench-clearing, on-field fracas. But Sale also is considered a consummate teammate and primarily the easy-going face of the franchise, attached to his Cy Young Award-caliber pitching.

"I've known Chris for years," White Sox starting pitcher James 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."

"Part of what makes Chris great, part of what makes him elite, is his passion and commitment," Hahn said. "We've seen that sometimes spill out from between the white lines. Yesterday was one of those instances, and it unfortunately led to events that required discipline."

Hahn added that Saturday's actions and the ensuing suspension won't diminish the team's view of Sale's potential to help them win a championship or help them through a trade to another team. Hahn wouldn't discuss Sale trade interest as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches on Aug. 1, just as he wouldn't get into specifics of Saturday. But it's known that the White Sox are asking for a high premium return to even consider moving their ace-hurler under potential control through 2019 with team options.

"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."

Hahn said that at no time during their conversations did Sale express a desire to leave the White Sox. As for whether Sale needs to apologize to his teammates or the fans, Hahn left that decision up to Sale.

"In my opinion, this is an internal matter and how he chooses to reintegrate himself into the clubhouse is Chris's choice," Hahn said.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.