Sale hopes to keep focus on winning

Ace apologizes to fans, teammates; wants to stay with White Sox

Sale hopes to keep focus on winning

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale doesn't want to be traded -- and doesn't believe he will be -- in the wake of Saturday night's pregame outburst that resulted in him being scratched from his start that evening and then suspended five games by the White Sox.

"I want to win a championship in Chicago. That's been my goal from Day 1," Sale told MLB.com Monday afternoon during a 30-minute interview, his first public comments since Saturday. "It has never changed. I only get more passionate about it because I know that it's not easy winning a championship. There's a lot that goes into it.

"Our main focus should be winning. I know that every single player comes in ready to win every day. I can't speak on anybody else. ... I don't think I would be traded. I don't know for sure. I don't know what they are thinking now or what's going on."

For Sale, the core issue wasn't the uniforms themselves, although he did have issues with them, but putting business interests ahead of winning.

"Nothing else matters really," Sale said, in a calm and composed but still passionate manner. "People don't talk about the guys who get paid the most. They talk about the guys with the rings and teams that won the rings. Our guys in this clubhouse deserve, in every single game, the best opportunity to go achieve that goal of winning a championship. That's why we are all here. Nothing else matters."

There are, of course, financial considerations for the White Sox as there are for any business. Throwback days are popular with fans and often are accompanied by a spike in attendance. Switching uniforms at the last moment, without an opportunity to inform fans of the change, certainly could have engendered frustration on the part of fans who came to see the team play in those uniforms.

The issue, for Sale, began in Spring Training when the players were fitted for the special jerseys, which in 2015 were too large and therefore uncomfortable to play in. Sale said that players were not fans of this jersey overall, and he said then that if the jerseys fell on his day to pitch, he didn't want to wear them, in part because he never had pitched in an untucked jersey in his life.

On the night before Sale's Saturday start, he was advised that the '76 throwbacks were set for his start and Sale asked the clubhouse manager for a different uniform, then expressing the sentiment to pitching coach Don Cooper. Sale was in favor of the '83 throwbacks, which eventually were worn Saturday, because he didn't want the untucked style of the '76 uniform.

When he arrived Saturday and the '76 throwbacks were set out for the players, Sale again took his issue to Cooper and manager Robin Ventura, with whom he admittedly lost his cool. He did not get the answer he wanted and, upon returning to the clubhouse, Sale reportedly cut up his uniform and then those of his teammates, rendering them unwearable.

"When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue," Sale said. "I tried to bring it up and say, 'Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,' and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I'll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game.

"[The '76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing."

In the end, Ventura told Sale there would be no last-minute change.

"I didn't put promotion in front of winning," Ventura said. "But I think we all have things that we have to do. There has to be a line somewhere, and that's what ended up happening."

Hahn on Sale's suspension

"Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department," Sale said. "If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it."

Ventura made the decision to scratch Sale, and Sale apologized Monday to the fans who came to see him and to his teammates, especially the bullpen, who he said he owes big time for their carrying the team in his place.

"I have regret, because I play 33 times a year at most in the regular season. So I put a lot of emphasis on when I play and I take a lot of pride in work that I do," Sale said. "When I can't or don't do that, yeah, I have disappointment in myself for not being there for my guys.

"Do I regret standing up for what I believe in? Absolutely not. Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not."

Sale worked out Monday at the ballpark and said he did not think he and Ventura needed a sitdown. But their working relationship might have been altered.

"We'll find out when he gets back," Ventura said.

"I'm going to show up on Thursday and do what I've always done. That's get ready to play baseball and put everything I got into winning that game," Sale said. "I know my teammates are, too. So that's all that matters to me. It's unfortunate it got to this point."

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.