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For Chris Sale, leaving White Sox is ‘bittersweet’

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Chris Sale is thrilled to be going to Boston to pitch for the Red Sox.

“You’re talking about one of the greatest baseball franchises ever,” Sale said. “I’ve always been a big fan of the Boston Red Sox for a few reasons.”

The White Sox traded Sale in a blockbuster deal for four prospects during the Winter Meetings Tuesday. The trade bolstered an already strong starting rotation and made the Red Sox an American League favorite to win the pennant.

“You’re a perennial contender for making the playoffs, having a realistic chance of winning a World Series,” Sale, a five-time All-Star with the Sox, said. “I’ve always heard great things about the guys on this team in the clubhouse and you have dedicated ownership and front office guys dedicated to winning and winning annually.”

Chris Sale (49) is congratulated by third baseman Todd Frazier, back, following a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The White Sox defeated the Royals 7-4. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Sale, 27, expressed appreciation for the Sox drafting him 13th overall in 2010 and fast-tracking him to the majors when other clubs had doubts, he said.

They were really, they had my back a lot and they gave me opportunities that not a lot of other people would have given me,” Sale said. “I’m very thankful for that.”

He said the trade was “bittersweet” because of ties and relationships established since he was drafted.

 “It’s tough,” he said. “You build a relationship with these guys and they are like family. Everybody over there is being in your family. You are around these guys probably even more during the year than you are around your family. 
“But knowing what lies ahead makes it a little bit easier for that transition.”
 The White Sox trade underscored the front office’s failure to win despite having the perennial Cy Young candidate at the top of its rotation. The last time Sale pitched in meaningful games in September was in 2012, when the Sox faded after being in first place for much of the season.

Sale, who set the franchise record for strikeouts in 2015, knew he would likely be dealt.

“It’s kind of like being monkey in the middle. You’re glad when you finally get the ball,” Sale said.

“It was taxing. There was a lot of speculation. There is story after story and I was getting flooded with text messages from family and friends. It will be nice to get back to normalcy.”

Sale’s wife, Brianne, is expected the couple’s second child in two weeks. The Red Sox spring training facility is close enough to his Florida home where he can live there during camp. The Sox train in Arizona.

“It didn’t work out,” he said. “I really wish it did. I have nothing but really good things to take from that and I appreciate my time with the White Sox but I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”