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Chris Sale saga raises questions about Sox

Chris Sale

Chris Sale

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Updated: June 11, 2012 10:20AM

I used to know the White Sox. Frankly, we all kind of did.

They were unlike any other major-league team, an open book for all to read. That’s what was endearing about them: There were very few secrets. We saw behind the curtain, saw the dysfunction, and it made them easy to embrace. They were flawed, just like the rest of us.

Now I don’t know if anyone knows the team at 35th and Shields anymore, and that includes the people working there.

Take the ever-changing saga of left-hander Chris Sale, which now has reached the chapter where he will be undergoing an MRI exam on his left elbow. Such exams rarely have happy endings.

When the Sox said during the offseason that Sale would be moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation, it came with more than a few in the organization rolling their eyes. With good reason.

A Sox source indicated the one thing pitching coach Don Cooper and former manager Ozzie Guillen agreed on last season, even when their relationship was disintegrating, was that Sale wouldn’t hold up as a starter.

Guillen, now the manager of the Florida Marlins, was taken aback at Cooper’s apparent change of heart, saying on Opening Day last month in Miami: ‘‘I hope they don’t kill that kid.’’

Cooper, however, denied wanting to keep Sale out of the rotation last season, telling the Sun-Times on Tuesday: ‘‘No, I was never adamantly against it. I want what my guys want. He wants to start.’’

So now 23-year-old pitchers
call the shots?

OK, let’s pretend Cooper was all for Sale starting, despite a Sox source saying otherwise. What about the concerns scouts have expressed about Sale’s violent throwing motion?

‘‘No, there were no concerns about that,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘If you don’t have a good delivery, you can’t throw strikes.’’

There are so many things wrong with that statement, it’s almost unfair to attack. You know who threw a lot of strikes a couple of years ago? Stephen Strasburg, right before he had Tommy John surgery, and hundreds of other pitchers who have had to go under the knife.

The funny thing is, after Cooper saw Strasburg pitch against the Sox in 2010, he predicted the phenom was headed for Tommy John surgery.

Still, the Sox pushed forward with the plan to move Sale to the rotation, with general manager Ken Williams the driving force behind the decision, a Sox source said.

On Friday, the Sox announced Sale was out of the rotation because of lingering soreness in his pitching elbow. Privately, his fellow pitchers weren’t surprised because Sale still was searching for a changeup as a third pitch, so he was relying on a heavy dose of sliders.

According to Fangraphs, 30 percent of Sale’s pitches were sliders. That’s fine for one inning out of the bullpen, but over six-plus innings? Good luck.

Manager Robin Ventura said the move back to the bullpen was for the rest of the season, but Cooper said Tuesday that wasn’t necessarily the case. On Wednesday, the Sox announced an MRI exam was coming.

Wait, who’s in charge?

The Sale saga reeks of mismanagement. Then again, we don’t really know the Sox anymore.

And maybe it’s better that way.

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