CHICAGO — Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from his start against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night after he was involved in what the team said was a “non-physical clubhouse incident.”
Sale, who was to attempt to become the majors’ first 15-game winner, was sent home from the park.
“The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club,” general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “The White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed.”
The White Sox clubhouse was open to reporters for only 20 minutes before it was closed for a team meeting before the game. Manager Robin Ventura did not discuss the incident later in his pregame availability.
Right-hander Matt Albers started in Sale’s place and the White Sox planned to use multiple relievers. The crowd booed when Albers was announced as the starter as the teams warmed up.
Sale had been shown as the starter on the scoreboard until about 15 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, which was delayed 10 minutes by rain.
With the White Sox fading from playoff contention, Sale’s name has been mentioned as a possible trade target for contending teams.
The left-hander, 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA, has been outspoken in the past.
Sale was openly critical of team president Ken Williams during spring training when he said the son of teammate Adam LaRoche would no longer be allowed in the clubhouse. LaRoche retired as a result, and Sale hung LaRoche’s jersey in his locker.
The 27-year-old Sale has said he’d like to stay in Chicago. He was the 13th overall pick out of Florida Gulf Coast in 2010 and has been selected as an All-Star five times. He started for the American League in this month’s All-Star Game.
Sale, who is 71-43 in his career, entered the day leading the majors with 133 innings pitched and three complete games.
In his last outing Monday, Sale allowed one hit over eight shutout innings before closer David Robertson gave up four runs in the ninth in Chicago’s loss to Seattle.
The White Sox, who started 23-10, had dropped eight of nine games before Saturday and sat in fourth place in the AL Central, creating speculation that Sale and fellow lefty Jose Quintana could be dealt.
Hahn said Thursday the White Sox were “mired in mediocrity” and hinted at possible big roster changes.
Tigers GM Al Avila said before the game that many teams were looking for starting pitching.
“Yet there are not as many good starting pitchers available,” Avila said. “And the guys that may come available are going to come at a steep price.