White Sox's Sale went to KC clubhouse; trouble averted
Day after benches-clearing incident, lefty and fellow Sox hurler Samardzija say they've moved on
CHICAGO -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale went to the Royals' clubhouse Thursday night after the on-field fracas in the bottom of the seventh inning at U.S. Cellular Field had been settled, but cooler heads prevailed before anything escalated.
One source said that Alex Rios, a friend and former teammate of Sale with the White Sox who is now with the Royals, helped defuse the situation. Edinson Volquez, the Kansas City hurler who joined Sale as part of the five players ejected, said somebody told him that Sale was knocking on the clubhouse door during the eighth inning. Sale didn't confirm nor deny the reported action, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura all but acknowledged it took place.
"All emotions are running high at that point," Ventura said during his pregame interview session Friday. "I just found out about it. You got to have a conversation and you move on from there. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and nothing happened. There were other guys there to cool him down and nothing happened.
"There are guys out there trying to make it peaceful, and there were guys that weren't. Everybody reacts different in those situations."
Sale and Jeff Samardzija, who was part of two or three ancillary fights during the melee, took a "let's-focus-on-the-day-ahead approach" on Friday. It remains to be seen if the Royals have done the same.
Samardzija hit Lorenzo Cain with a pitch on Opening Day in Kansas City after Mike Moustakas had homered, and some Royals may see that as the start of bad blood that boiled over Thursday night.
"I'm not going to get caught up in the bravo talk," Samardzija said. "We play a man's game and things happened that day. I can't speak for things that happened in the past or this or that. The way it went is the way it went.
"So I don't know if they have animosity from the past, and so be it. I've turned the page and moved on to the next day."
Samardzija's next start -- in the series opener Monday night at Baltimore -- remained intact as of Friday. No action has been taken by Major League Baseball, although Samardzija's actions during the fight could be grounds for suspension.
"Again, it's not my call," Samardzija said. "I'll show up here every day doing my job."
"I don't know what course they're going to take, but you deal with it," Sale said of potential discipline. "You're supposed to be responsible for your actions, and we will."
Of course, any missed starts from these top two White Sox hurlers for a team trying to find its identity can't be considered positive.
"We need to pitch every game we can," Samardzija said. "We need to act a little more mature and understand that things happen within games and we need to control ourselves better. And we'll go about it that way and we'll learn from it. But we understand as two starters on this team that we're very important to this team and we need to play, and you definitely can't do your team any help when you're watching from afar.
"Nobody wants to act that way. In a way, it's embarrassing, and you want to come back and show [that] you want to be known for what you do on the field and the way you play the game. Obviously, look back on it and you're not happy about it, you're not proud about it, but I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I care for my teammates and I want to win every game."
Sale has become a leader of the White Sox, beyond his standing as one of the game's top starters. He's an affable young man with a good sense of humor, as shown by his Word of the Start program in 2014, but he also has an intensely competitive side. That was evident last year when he believed Detroit's Victor Martinez was stealing signs.
That competitive fire has been doused by Sale in the past as soon as the game has come to a close. His actions following the fight, in a game where Sale pitched seven innings, also seemed to be pushed to the side by Friday.
"Tempers flared a little bit, got a little hot," Sale said, "but this isn't going to turn into Fight Club or anything like that. It's baseball. We got a little upset, tempers got a little high and then that's it. Everyone's just making a little bit bigger deal than it really is.
"What's done is done. It's all in the past. Baseball's a day-to-day sport. Every day is a new day. So anything that happened yesterday ... we're ready to win a ballgame today, and we're just ready to put this all behind us. Come in every day ready to win and that's what we're ready to do."