"Chris has been suspended for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement Sunday. "While we all appreciate Chris' talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organizational expectations."
Hahn addressed the media shortly after the announcement and said Sale will be required to stay away from the team during the suspension.
"It's unfortunate that it's become this level of an issue and a potential distraction, taking away from what we're trying to accomplish," Hahn said.
According to ESPN and multiple reports, Sale expressed displeasure over having to wear the White Sox's 1976 navy, collared throwbacks, and the matter escalated from there, culminating in a confrontation with a member of Chicago's front office. The team then decided to send Sale home from U.S. Cellular Field.
FanRag Sports first reported that Sale cut up the 1976 throwbacks during batting practice so they couldn't be worn. Fox Sports reported that Sale disliked the uniforms because he thought they were uncomfortable and thought the White Sox were putting "PR and jersey sales" ahead of winning.
"The only thing that matters to Chris Sale is winning," his agent, B.B. Abbott, said in a text to ESPN's Jayson Stark on Sunday. "If he perceives that something is distracting from that or being prioritized over that, he is going to have a problem with it. There is no better teammate or competitor than Chris, and there is no player that cares more about the city of Chicago and its fans than him."
Manager Robin Ventura noted that this was not the first outburst from Sale, who was extremely vocal in the fallout from the Adam LaRoche incident in spring training, when friction surfaced following the club's restrictions on the amount of time LaRoche's son was allowed to spend in the clubhouse. Sale was openly critical of executive vice president Ken Williams' decision in that case.
"We all know he's emotional," Ventura said.
Hahn said he and Sale met Saturday to discuss what happened and the events leading up to the incident.
"We both expressed remorse that it got to this point," Hahn said. "At that point last night, I think Chris stood by his actions. Part of what makes Chris great, Chris elite, is his passion and commitment. We've seen that at times spill out from between the white lines. Yesterday was one of those incidents, and unfortunately, it led to events that required discipline."
Abbott said Sale and Hahn have "talked at length" about Saturday's incident and "there will not be an issue" once Sale returns from his suspension. Hahn declined to reveal much about the content of the discussion but said Sale has not requested a trade.
Sale's suspension began Saturday and runs through Wednesday. The White Sox recalled right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo to take Sale's roster spot during the suspension.
Ventura said Sale remains one of the team's respected leaders but might have some fences to mend when he returns.
"It's possible," Ventura said. "It's nothing that can't be smoothed over. This is not the first [outburst]."
Sale's agent said he doesn't think Sale has to worry about fixing things when he returns to the team.
"I honestly don't think there are fences to mend," Abbott said. "He has been with the organization since he was drafted. The entire organization knows the fiber of Chris Sale. They understand the passion and fierce, competitive nature. If they are on board with prioritizing winning, there will not be an issue at all."
The decision to scratch Sale on Saturday was met with rampant speculation, especially considering that the five-time All-Star has been mentioned in trade rumors in recent days. The White Sox are reportedly asking for a massive haul in return for Sale; one source told ESPN that Chicago is seeking five to seven prospects. The Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers are rumored to be among those interested.
Hahn indicated that he did not feel this incident would have an effect on Sale's market value.
"I want to be clear to all of you: The actions or behavior of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help us win a championship and win multiple championships," Hahn said. "It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events."
Sale is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA this season. He had 274 strikeouts in 2015, the most in the American League.
Asked if he could characterize the level of interest Sale has generated on the trade market, Hahn said: "I could, but I won't."
Information from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick and Doug Padilla and The Associated Press was used in this report.