MIKE CRANSTON, Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Robin Ventura insists he can work with Chris Sale despite the suspended ace’s critical comments about the White Sox manager.
Sale is serving a five-day, unpaid ban after he destroyed throwback uniforms the team was supposed to wear for his start Saturday. Sale told MLB.com in a story published Monday that he doesn’t regret standing up for what he believed and said Ventura should have stood up for his players.
Ventura shook off the comments before Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over the Cubs and supported general manager Rick Hahn’s decision to send the left-hander home after the incident.
“Everything that happened in (the clubhouse) I’m going to keep it in there. But we had to act,” Ventura said. “It was over the line.”
White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams expressed support for Ventura and Hahn before Tuesday night’s game against the crosstown Cubs. Ventura, in his fifth year as manager, is in the final season of his contract and Chicago is fading from playoff contention after a 23-10 start.
“The one thing I can say is the way that Rick and Robin I think handled the situation, it was a difficult situation, certainly a unique situation, but one in which I think they handled in an excellent fashion,” Williams said.
Sale called the 1976 V-neck, collared jerseys “uncomfortable and unorthodox” in the MLB.com interview. Sale said he first complained about the uniforms in spring training and then twice revisited the subject before Saturday’s scheduled start against Detroit. Sale also criticized Williams during spring training for restricting clubhouse access for Adam LaRoche’s son, Drake.
After seeing the collared jerseys hanging from players’ lockers when he arrived Saturday, Sale became enraged. When the team didn’t agree to change them out, Sale cut up enough jerseys that the White Sox had to switch uniforms.
“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale told MLB.com. “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.”
Sale, 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA, never wore the replacement 1983 throwback jersey. He was scratched from his start, sent home and the next day suspended for what Hahn described as “insubordination and for destroying team equipment.”
“There are a lot of people that work hard on that stuff that are on the other side of the hall,” Ventura said. “That’s their job, to either create a different uniform, create a promotional night to help get people in the stands and make money.”
The volatile Sale and Ventura engaged in a heated argument during the 2014 season. In spring training this year, Sale accused Williams of lying to players after Williams banned LaRoche’s son from the clubhouse. LaRoche later retired, and Sale hung the jerseys of LaRoche and his son in his locker.
Sale’s future in Chicago is uncertain. The White Sox were 50-50 after Tuesday’s win and third in the AL Central. They’re expected to field inquiries for Sale before the Aug. 1 deadline. Sale has a club-friendly contract that runs through 2019, counting two years of team options.
Despite all of that, Ventura said he can “absolutely” still work effectively with Sale. The left-hander worked out on his own at U.S. Cellular Field early Tuesday and is scheduled to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“I’m more interested in everyone moving on,” Williams said when asked about Sale’s behavior. “Any further comment beyond what I just said is counterproductive to all of that. At one point in my career, you probably could’ve gotten me to comment in a very different way. I’m sure it would be more entertaining for all, except me.”
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