White Sox-Cubs Preview
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura doesn't expect any more hoopla or controversy as Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale returns to the lineup Thursday.
Whether the White Sox manager is just looking at a best case scenario remains to be seen. But Ventura says there shouldn't be any issues from Sale's teammates.
"I think it's going to be fine," said Ventura on Wednesday, prior to the start of the two-game Wrigley Field leg of the White Sox-Cubs inter league crosstown clash.
"Players always have their teammates' backs and that's no different with our clubhouse," Ventura said. "I think it's going to be fairly normal when he comes in as fair as he's going to be prepared to pitch and our guys are going to get prepared to play and it's going to go from there."
Sale (14-3) was the first big league pitcher to 14 wins this season but hasn't pitched since July 18. He was yanked from his last start on July 23 and suspended for five games following a clubhouse incident where he reportedly damaged 1976 throwback jerseys intended to be worn that night.
"(The uniforms were) uncomfortable and unorthodox," Sale said in an interview this week with MLB.com. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in."
In the same interview, Sale also apologized to fans who had come out that night to see him pitch against the Detroit Tigers.
Ventura said Sale is not required to say anything to his teammates about the incident, but expects there will be some discussion.
"They're going to talk on their own I'm sure," Ventura said. "Over the course of the year they've had meetings amongst themselves -- clubhouse meeting son their own. Some of that's going to happen but it's not going to be a full team meeting."
Sale will make only his second start in three weeks while facing the Cubs for the first time.
"He might have a little more on it than in the past because he's probably going to come out a little strong," Ventura said. 'He's had these situations before he's had a long layoff and he's always been pretty good when he's had a long layoff."
Sale goes against Cubs right-hander John Lackey (7-7) on Thursday. Lackey is 0-4 in his last six starts and 3-7 lifetime against the White Sox.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he felt more upbeat heading into the showdown with Sale after his offense woke up in Wednesday's 8-1 victory.
"In a game like tomorrow we have to pitch well to beat them because you really anticipate they're going to pitch well, he's going to pitch well," Maddon said. "To go into tomorrow's game with a defeat and not swinging the bats well would have been much more difficult."
The Cubs are 7-5 since the All-Star break and wins in three straight series. But as they regain health and sharpness, Maddon said they could return to a similar for that saw 25 wins in their first 31 games.
"I believe we have another really good run in us," Maddon said.
The Cubs stick with mostly American League opposition after the White Sox leave Wrigley Field. Seattle comes in for three games starting Friday and the Cubs travel to Oakland for three games starting Aug. 5. The Angels visit Chicago for a pair on Aug. 9-10.