American League All-Star pitcher Chris Sale, of the Chicago White Sox throws the first pitch during the first inning of the 87th MLB All-Star Game against the National League at Petco Park in San Diego, California on July 12, 2016. The American League defeated the National League 4-2. Photo by Howard Shen/UPI | License Photo
CHICAGO - White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from his start Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers due to a pregame "clubhouse incident," the White Sox announced minutes before he was scheduled to take the mound.
Sale, a five-time All-Star, was sent home from the ballpark. The White Sox said they are investigating the incident, which was not physical.
Right-handed reliever Matt Albers started in the hard-throwing left-hander's place.
"The White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed," general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura and players declined to go into detail about the incident after the teams' 3-3 game was suspended after eight innings due to rain. The game will be resumed Sunday afternoon before the teams' series finale.
"We're going to keep that in-house," said Albers, who allowed an unearned run in two innings. "Obviously, you guys probably know what happened."
According to reports, Sale was upset about the team wearing 1976 throwback jerseys for the game. He reportedly found them uncomfortable and cut them up. The team instead wore 1983 uniforms.
"I'm not going to discuss what went on in there," Ventura said. "But unfortunate he didn't start tonight and proud of the guys that came in and filled in."
Sale is known for his fiery demeanor. In March, he criticized White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams after Williams requested veteran Adam LaRoche bring his son into the clubhouse less often. Last season, Sale was one of five players ejected in a White Sox-Royals brawl, and he approached the visitors' clubhouse after the fight. In 2014, Sale got into an argument with Ventura, leading to Sale being excused before a game for personal reasons.
Third baseman Todd Frazier dismissed the idea that Sale's competitiveness can get the best of him.
"He's a bulldog. He's a good pitcher," Frazier said.
Sale (14-3, 3.18 ERA) is tied for the major league lead for victories and started this month's All-Star Game for the American League.
Entering Saturday, he ranked among American League leaders in several statistical categories, including innings (first at 133), WHIP (tied for first at 1.01), strikeouts (fifth at 129) and ERA (tied for eighth at 3.18).
"He's one of the best, absolutely," Albers said. "But we're here for teammates. We're here to pick each other up in good times and bad, so we're just here to pick whoever up whenever."
Sale, 27, is 71-43 with a 2.95 ERA over seven major league seasons.
"Any time he goes out there you have a good chance to win, especially the way it's been going," Ventura said before Sale was scratched.