Former White Sox ace Chris Sale isn’t certain how he will feel when he takes the mound Tuesday and pitches against his former team for the first time.
Sale made his way to the visitors’ clubhouse, along with his Red Sox teammates, before the game Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. He acknowledged making the longer walk down a tunnel he had passed through so many times before was ‘‘different’’ and ‘‘weird.’’
Facing a lineup of familiar faces and squaring off against Jose Quintana will be, too, Sale admitted.
But after seven seasons with the Sox, who officially started their rebuild when they traded Sale in December, he returns to Chicago with no ill will.
‘‘I knew stuff like this happens in the game,’’ Sale said before the Sox’ 5-4 victory. ‘‘I’ve seen a lot of teammates while I was over there get traded or go elsewhere through free agency and things like that. You always know it’s a possibility, and you just deal with it.
‘‘There’s no hard feelings. It just came to a point in time where that’s what needed to happen. This is where I called home for a long time, and it got me to this point in my career.’’
The Sox honored Sale with a video tribute early in the game. He received a nice ovation as he tipped his cap and pointed toward the Sox’ dugout.
Sale enters his start Tuesday with a major-league-best 101 strikeouts in 10 starts. After matching his career high with 17 victories last season, Sale was dealt to the Red Sox for prospects, including second baseman Yoan Moncada.
His transition has been seamless, for the most part. He struck out 10 or more hitters in eight consecutive starts and has been ‘‘everything and more’’ the Red Sox were hoping for, manager John Farrell said.
But for all of his success in his new surroundings, Sale’s history with the Sox isn’t lost on him. He visited his old clubhouse and remains in contact with former teammates such as Quintana, who called Sale the best teammate he has played with.
‘‘I miss his energy,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘We have a lot of guys here with energy, too, but I miss the
energy he had every time we talked in the dugout, watching the game.’’
At times, Sale’s emotions boiled over and affected his relationship with the Sox’ front office. But he reiterated he has no hard feelings toward his former team.
He referred to ‘‘a couple of blips on the radar,’’ referring to a war of words with executive vice president Ken Williams over the clubhouse presence of Adam LaRoche’s son in spring training of 2016 and cutting up throwback jerseys
before a game last July. But the good memories outweigh the bad ‘‘more times than not,’’ Sale said.
‘‘It got me to where I am today,’’ Sale said. ‘‘[I] can’t change the past; just try to become better in the future. [I’m] appreciative of my time here, the people I met here, the relationships I built, most of the things I did here, too. I’m appreciative of everybody involved that got me to this point right here. Without a lot of people in this building, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, that’s for sure.’’
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