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Chris Sale: Nice to get out there, pitch after suspension

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Sale appreciative of the support he has received (0:56)

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale explains the support he has received since the announcement of his suspension and how has it helped him get through it. (0:56)

CHICAGO -- White Sox ace Chris Sale said he felt like he was "out on an island" for five days. He was back in more comfortable terrain Thursday: on the pitcher's mound at Wrigley field. And now Sale is anxious to put his recent controversy to bed.

"This is what I signed up for, is to play baseball," Sale said Thursday night. "So it was nice to get out there and pitch again."

Sale, considered the front-runner in this season's chase for the American League Cy Young Award, overcame early command problems Thursday to hold the Cubs to two runs over six innings. Nevertheless, Sale (14-4) took the loss in the Cubs' 3-1 win and missed out on a chance to become the first 15-game winner in the AL this season.

"I thought he pitched a good game," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You know, he had a walk and a hit by pitch that ends up costing us. But he pitched a good game."

Of his outing, Sale said, "Felt good. First couple, I was knocking the rust off a little bit. [Catcher] Dioner [Navarro] really did a great job of getting me through that."

The rust was most evident in one regard: a lack of strikeouts. Even though Sale punched out four Cubs looking, none of those K's occurred during the first three innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info research, that hadn't happened to Sale in any of his previous 135 career starts.

Of course, the focus before, during and after Sale's outing was not on his performance on the mound. He returned to the White Sox on Thursday after serving a five-day suspension for a much-publicized incident in which he cut up some throwback jerseys that were to be worn Saturday in a game against Detroit.

Sale's postgame news conference marked his first time addressing the general media, and although he spoke for 10 minutes, he didn't want to delve into specifics about the incident.

"Listen guys, I don't want to get too far into it," Sale said. "It is what it is. It's in the past. Just look to the future and try to make things right, make things better and win ballgames."

Regrets?

"I regret not being there for my guys. I'm a pitcher, called upon every fifth day. If I can't go out there for my guys, for the fans, that gets to me," he said.

Sale said that while he was away from the team, teammates, former teammates and other players around the league sent him text messages to boost his spirits. The gestures did not go unnoticed.

"There is a lot of crap that was going on this week, no doubt about it," Sale said. "But for them to do what they did today, and the previous four or five days, it says a lot about who they are and how much they care about me."

Sale was received warmly in the clubhouse before the game after arriving at Wrigley Field, exchanging hugs with teammates as he made the rounds in the cramped visiting clubhouse at the old ballpark.

"I have a group of unbelievable guys in there, my teammates," Sale said. "I knew who they were before this, but I found out who they really are and what they're about. I have unbelievable teammates, I really do."

Sale said he did not address his teammates as a group before the game but planned to talk with them individually.

"Get to them on a personal level," Sale said. "I want to let them know where my head's at, where my heart's at. And let them know how much I appreciate them."

Sale's return comes just four days before the trade deadline. His name has come up often, and the uniform controversy added an extra layer of intrigue to the situation. Nevertheless, even with a lot of extra time on his hands, Sale said he paid no attention to the rumor mill.

"I don't read the newspapers," Sale said. "I don't have Twitter. I stay out of all that. That stuff is for other people. I'm a pitcher. I get ready to pitch and play baseball."

Sale also dismissed suggestions that his relationship with the White Sox front office is irreparable.

"I think everyone is making a little bit bigger deal of this than it really is," Sale said. "We're here to win games. And from this point forward, I think that's our main focus.

"I'm here to win. I'm happy exactly where I'm at."