Sale calls Hahn to discuss direction of Sox
Ace admits to being caught off guard by non-tendering of catcher Flowers
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale called White Sox general manager Rick Hahn on Thursday morning, but Sale certainly wouldn't label the conversation anything like a clear-the-air moment.
The White Sox ace simply wanted to get a feel for what was happening with the team from the man in charge. This talk came about after catcher Tyler Flowers was non-tendered Wednesday night, ending his tenure on the South Side.
Sale admitted disappointment in the White Sox getting rid of the man who has caught every pitch he's thrown over the past two seasons, with Sale finishing third (2014) and fourth ('15), respectively, in the American League Cy Young Award voting.
"Yeah, it caught me out of nowhere, and that's kind of why I called him -- just to see what was going on," a typically relaxed Sale told MLB.com during a phone interview from his Florida home. "I really liked throwing to Tyler, but things happen. This is baseball. This is sports. You've got to move on.
"Like I told [Hahn], I'm going to show up to Spring Training with the same attitude and, you know, building other relationships as far as pitcher and catcher and try to develop those and work on those. You don't want to dwell on the past. As much as we are going to miss Tyler, we have to now shift gears into, 'OK, let's start from scratch, get this going and make it a good thing.'"
Working with Flowers, in Sale's estimation, definitively helped him as a pitcher. He reiterated a point made numerous times during the past two seasons that Flowers knew the four-time All-Star better than he knew himself, and that the special nature of the pitcher-catcher bond often is taken for granted.
This basic sentiment and praise was expressed by Sale to Hahn during another talk between the two at the end of the 2015 season, which explains why Sale said that he felt "blindsided" by Flowers' exit. Sale added that it would have been nice to be informed before the team's decision, but added with a laugh that the White Sox clearly knew where he stood and that he would have argued for Flowers to stay.
"At the end of the day, there's not a team in the world that needs to call somebody on their team to let them know what's going on," said Sale, who has become the face of the White Sox franchise. "I'm not saying you need to run things by me.
"Absolutely, 100 percent not. But it came out of left field. It's something like, 'Oh, man. Whoa.' It kind of catches you off guard a little bit. But yeah, we weren't yelling at each other. We weren't angry. We were just figuring out what was going on."
Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro will be catching Sale in 2016, while -- the White Sox hope -- adding a boost at the plate. While Sale believes the whole staff will miss Flowers, he feels a sense of excitement in getting to know the new backstops of whom he has heard nothing but good things.
Hahn has a good grasp on what the players want and what also needs to happen to develop a contending team, per Sale. The hurler, who's entering his seventh season, hopes any players Hahn adds fit a specific style, as much as a specific talent level.
"I don't care what position, what his name is, where he's from," Sale said. "I just want to know that whoever it is, whatever 25 guys that we take, we show up and just get after it.
"Let's give everything we've got from Day 1 to the day they kick us out of the clubhouse. It's about coming together as a group, playing hard and showing up every day ready to win."