The White Sox scratched ace Chris Sale from his scheduled start Saturday against the Tigers and sent him home because of an undisclosed ‘‘clubhouse incident.’’
A statement released by general manager Rick Hahn less than 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch said the incident was ‘‘non-physical in nature’’ and is being investigated by the team. He said the Sox won’t comment further
until the investigation is complete.
Multiple reports surfaced during the thrice rain-delayed game — which eventually was suspended with the score tied 3-3 after eight innings and will be picked up at that point at 1:10 p.m. Sunday — that the incident stemmed from Sale’s displeasure with the 1976 throwback uniforms the Sox were supposed to wear. He reportedly found them uncomfortable and cut them up at some point before the game. The Sox ended up wearing their 1983 throwbacks instead.
The 1976 throwbacks were part of an overall promotion at U.S. Cellular Field. They feature a collar around the neck and are worn untucked at the waist. The Sox gave out replica 1976 jerseys to the first 20,000 fans.
Manager Robin Ventura declined to add any details beyond the statement put out by the team, but he said Sale wouldn’t pitch Sunday.
‘‘I’ll talk about the game,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘But any of that [Sale] stuff, we’ll wait on that. I know the team put out a release on that, and we’re just going to stick with that. I’m not going to discuss what went on in there. Unfortunate he didn’t start tonight and proud of the guys that came in and filled in.’’
Reliever Matt Albers, who started in Sale’s place, and third baseman Todd Frazier also declined to add any specifics about what went on in the clubhouse before the game.
‘‘We’re going to keep it in-house,’’ Albers said. ‘‘You’re going to have to ask somebody else about that.’’
Sale was in the clubhouse before the game but was unavailable for interviews, and media were ushered out for a team meeting at 3 p.m.
Rumors swirled on social media that Sale had been traded or had been scratched because of an illness. Those rumors turned out to be inaccurate, but multiple reports indicated the Sox were still in trade talks about Sale in advance of the Aug. 1 deadline.
It’s unclear whether Sale’s reported meltdown will affect the Sox’ willingness or desire to trade him. The Sox are in fourth place in the American League Central at 46-50, 10 games behind the division-leading Indians.
Sale has a history of being involved in behind-the-scenes incidents, with this being at least the fourth time he has been at odds with the front office in the last two years.
Most recently, Sale lashed out at executive vice president Ken Williams during spring training for telling Adam LaRoche he couldn’t bring his son, Drake, into the Sox’ clubhouse as often as he was. LaRoche retired because of the request, and Sale called Williams a liar who ‘‘created a problem.’’
In April of last season, Sale was suspended for five games after an on-field brawl led to him banging on the door of the Royals’ clubhouse to pick a fight. The previous September, he got into an argument with Ventura after a game against the Tigers.
Frustrations are high on the South Side right now. The Sox entered play Saturday having lost seven of their last eight games, and Sale — who was looking to become the first 15-game winner in the majors — was supposed to provide a respite from the losing.
Instead, the Sox plowed through their bullpen, using Albers, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson through eight innings.
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