Kenny Williams Backs Robin Ventura, Rick Hahn In Chris Sale Jersey Blowup

By Chris Emma–

CHICAGO (CBS) — White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams spent his Saturday evening away from U.S. Cellular Field, with his phone blowing up.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was calling with updates not about a potential trade but instead another clubhouse blowup from ace left-hander Chris Sale. The team’s most important player, Sale had cut up the White Sox’s 1976 throwback jerseys in a protest before his scheduled start.

Sale felt the unconventional jerseys were uncomfortable and was set off by how manager Robin Ventura wouldn’t be swayed to make a change. Sale was comfortable in calling out his manager and defending the actions in the clubhouse. He held no regrets as of Monday.

“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale told MLB.com White Sox writer Scott Merkin. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”

Speaking to several reporters Tuesday prior to the Crosstown Classic matchup with the Cubs, Williams backed Hahn and Ventura.

“The one thing that I can say is that the way Rick and Robin handled the situation — it was a difficult situation and certainly a unique situation — was one in which they handled in an excellent fashion,” Williams said.

“I think they’ve handled it well. Everybody needs to move on.”

Williams was pressed on what could’ve been done differently by Ventura, but he believes it was handled properly.

Back in spring training, Sale had an outburst toward Williams regarding the team’s handling in reducing the time Adam LaRoche’s 14-year-old son, Drake, spent in the clubhouse. LaRoche abruptly retired, which led Sale to unleash on Williams.

Williams was asked if he and the White Sox have to handle Sale differently after these incidents.

“I’m more interested in everybody moving on,” Williams said. “Any further comment is counterproductive to all that. Now, at one point in my career, you probably could’ve gotten me to comment in a very different way.

“I’m sure it would be more entertaining for all — except for me and us.”

While Hahn handles the club as the trade deadline nears Monday, Williams is around the White Sox and discussing potential options with the general manager. It’s Hahn who’s handling the phone calls from other executives as the White Sox look for a direction.

Late last week, Hahn declared that the White Sox would be open to moving anybody if the right option emerged. Names like Sale and left-hander Jose Quintana are among the most intriguing to follow as potential pieces for a sale.

The White Sox enter Tuesday at 49-50 and eight games back of the AL Central lead and 6.5 game back of a wild-card spot. They have won three straight games — all of the walk-off fashion — and are looking to make it four against the Cubs on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.

So what’s the White Sox’s direction, especially in light of their recent incident?

“To say that we’re going to be buyers or sellers or both — some combination — we just don’t know,” Williams said. “We just don’t know.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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