One thing we shouldn’t expect from Chris Sale Thursday night: A first-pitch fastball to Cubs slugger Kris Bryant.
Bryant, who has struck out all six times he faced Sale, reversed course in a big way when looked for a fastball on Sale’s first pitch to him in the All-Star Game in San Diego – under advice from his father — and drove it into the seats for a home run.
Sale hasn’t been scored on since, pitching eight innings of one-hit ball in Seattle 10 days ago in his only outing since the Midsummer Classic. Sale, of course, hasn’t pitched since then because of a five-game suspension for cutting up his team’s uniforms before his last scheduled start Saturday against the Tigers.
Despite that zany stunt, Sale’s way of protesting a throwback jersey promotion, the Sox say it will be business as usual when he rejoins his team at Wrigley Field Thursday.
“Open arms. He’s our teammate,’’ Adam Eaton said. “He’s our guy, all the things that are swirling around about his character, who he is as a player … he’s my brother and I enjoy every second with him on and off the field. Can’t be a better person. I’ll be excited to see him. He’ll be in the same form he’s been all year. He’ll go out there and be Chris Sale.’’
Chris Sale is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA and probably the AL Cy Young favorite right now. He’ll make his fifth appearance (third start) against the Cubs, a body of work that includes a 15-strikeout, one-hit performance in seven innings at U.S. Cellular Field last Aug. 15 that halted a nine-game Cubs win streak. Sale has allowed one earned run over 16 innings lifetime against the Cubs and won his only appearance at Wrigley last July 11.
There is the issue, and a significant one at that, of Sale calling out manager Robin Ventura to stick up for his players in the aftermath of the uniform stunt.
“It’s going to be fine,’’ Ventura said Wednesday. “Players always have their teammate’s back. That’s no different with our clubhouse. I think it will be fairly normal when he comes in. He’s going to be prepared to pitch.’’
Sale has spoken with pitching coach Don Cooper since the incident but it’s believed he and Ventura, who sent him home after Sale cut up the uniforms, haven’t talked since. But Ventura expected his relationship with Sale to be “fine.”
“He’s going to come in and pitch,’’ Ventura said.
This and that
Carlos Rodon said his bullpen session before the game Wednesday was “good,” and the left-hander, who hasn’t pitched since July 5 because of a wrist sprain – he slipped in the Sox dugout – could come off the disabled list to pitch in Minnesota Sunday. The Sox are listing Jose Quintana Friday and Miguel Gonzalez Saturday and have Sunday as TBA. James Shields, who threw 117 pitches Tuesday, could go on normal four days rest Sunday.
Anthony Ranaudo made his Sox debut Wednesday, filling the third start missed by Rodon.
*Second baseman Brett Lawrie, as expected, went on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain, retroactive to July 22. Infielder Carlos Sanchez was recalled from AAA Charlotte.
*The Sox began a stretch of 17 road games in their next 20, including 12 against American League Central teams.