Robin Ventura sent his best lineup out to face the last-place Minnesota Twins on the final day of the season Sunday, a game that is expected to be his last as White Sox manager.
That lineup included ace Chris Sale, whom some thought would pass on his final start for the purpose of workload preservation on a left arm which has already logged a career high 221 2/3 innings. Ventura and Sale discussed last week the possibility of Sale taking the ball and the Cy Young candidate was all in.
“We had a conversation but it was going to be up to him,” Ventura said. “There’s no way you send him out there if he doesn’t have the desire to go out and pitch. We talked about it, he got to sleep on it and came back the next day and was all for it.”
Sale, who has finished in the top six in his first four seasons as a starter, is in the Cy Young mix again but Ventura said he decision to pitch is “more as a teammate, and what it means to go out and compete every day.
“It would be very easy for him to bow out and say ‘I’ve had enough.’ ”
Ventura has likely had enough of his job after five seasons. He again declined to discuss his future, saying he would do so during the postgame media sesssion.
Sale, meanwhile struggled from the very first pitch when Byron Buxton started the game with an inside-the-park homer. Miguel Sano hit a three-run homer in the third inning to give the Twins a 5-0 lead.