Mellowing with age, Sale reflects on good times with Chicago White Sox
Nearly halfway through in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, top Chicago White Sox pitching prospect Michael Kopech was asked about being involved in the 2016 trade that sent Chris Sale to the Red Sox.
"Who is that?" Kopech asked about Sale. "No, just kidding."
Third baseman Yoan Moncada also was involved in the December deal that officially launched the White Sox's rebuild. In all seriousness, they would like to move on.
"I know that YoYo (Moncada) and myself would rather almost put that behind us, but not in a negative connotation," Kopech said. "Just in the fact we want to have our own careers and build a name for ourselves. It's not a bad thing by any means.
"Chris Sale is Chris Sale. He's one of the faces of baseball, so to even still be included in that is really cool."
From 2010-16, Sale was the face of the White Sox's pitching staff. Not only did the lefty go 74-50 with a 3.00 ERA, he was a five-time all-star and ranks sixth in franchise history with 1,244 strikeouts.
Sale helped the Red Sox win the World Series last season, but he will never forget his formative years with the White Sox and the first big contract he signed (five years, $32.5 million plus two club option years).
"I was very appreciative for what they (White Sox) did for me," said Sale, who signed a new five-year, $145 million deal with Boston in March. "I was sitting there 22, 23 years old, had a young son (Rylan) at the time who just turned nine today. I think he was 2 at the time. A young married couple with a 2-year-old.
"Being able to play in this city and play major-league baseball for five more years and make some good money doing it, I was very appreciative of that. I'll never forget what they did for me and my family.
"I have nothing but appreciation for that entire process. I know some people look at it and say this or say that, but I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to."
Temperamental during much of his stay with the White Sox, Sale finally got tired of all the losing midway through the 2016 season. He all but forced a trade when he cut up throwback jerseys the Sox were supposed to wear before one of his start against the Detroit Tigers.
Winning a World Series ring with the Red Sox last season helped soothe Sale, and so has age.
"I'll be the first to admit when I was younger, I would get off the rails sometimes," the 30-year-old pitcher said. "It wasn't pretty. I know that, and everyone knows that, but that's part of the growing process. You are not going to be perfect. Making mistakes makes you a better person if you learn from it.
"I would like to think I've learned some very valuable lessons, not only over there (with White Sox), but over here as well. I just try to make strides in the right direction no matter what the circumstances are."
Sale got off to an 0-5 start with Boston this season and had a 6.30 ERA heading into Friday night's start against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
After striking out 10 over 6 scoreless innings, Sale got his first win and lowered the ERA to 5.25.
It was almost fitting he got back on track in the place where a potential Hall of Fame career got started.
"I played here for seven seasons," Sale said. "It's like walking into your old house you grew up in and having to leave that night. It's different, but I appreciated my time over there. I'm obviously thrilled to be part of the Boston Red Sox organization and want to be able to continue our success we've had since I've been here."