Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale has apologized in his first public comments since he was given a five-game suspension stemming from a dispute over the team’s throwback uniforms Saturday, saying winning was — and remains — at the center of his actions.
“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 in an extensive interview with MLB.com on Monday afternoon. “When I can’t or don’t do that, yeah, I have disappointment in myself for not being there for my guys.”
Sale said he was sorry to fans who came to see him pitch and to his teammates, especially the White Sox bullpen.
“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 said.
Sale suspended five days for uniform outburst
The White Sox have suspended Chris Sale for five days after his reported dispute over the team’s uniforms for Saturday’s game.
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Uni Watch: Chris Sale not the first to protest uniform
If Chris Sale did take scissors to his team’s uniforms, he may have set a new standard for uniform pushback, but he’s just the latest in a long line to have strong feelings about what they wear.
The left-hander also put a spotlight on manager Robin Ventura.
“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” he 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.”
According to ESPN and multiple reports, Sale expressed displeasure over having to wear the White Sox’s 1976 navy, collared throwbacks, and the matter escalated from there, culminating in a confrontation with a member of Chicago’s front office. The team then decided to send Sale home from U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale reportedly cut up the 1976 throwbacks during batting practice so they couldn’t be worn. Fox Sports reported that Sale disliked the uniforms because he thought they were uncomfortable and believed the White Sox were putting “PR and jersey sales” ahead of winning.
“When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue,” Sale told MLB.com. “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.”
Sale will start Thursday against the crosstown Cubs.
“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 told the website. “I know my teammates are, too. So that’s all that matters to me. It’s unfortunate it got to this point.”
Speaking before Monday night’s win over the Cubs, Ventura said he doesn’t think he needs to meet with Sale before the outing at Wrigley Field.
“Not necessarily. He’s going to pitch,” Ventura said. “That’s what he does.”
Sale said his focus remains on advancing and winning a World Series, and that “nothing else matters.”
“I want to win a championship in Chicago. That’s been my goal from day one,” Sale told MLB.com. “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.”
The suspension cost Sale $250,000 of his $9.15 million salary. He also was fined about $12,700 — the cost of the destroyed jerseys — a person familiar with the penalty told The Associated Press.
Ventura also announced Monday that right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday to take Sale’s spot on the roster, will start Wednesday against the Cubs. Right-hander Jacob Turner, who allowed four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings in his last start Friday against Detroit, will move to the bullpen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.