Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is getting frustrated. The second year GM is usually quick to crack a smile when faced with an unpleasant situation. This past week, however, Hahn’s temper was short as media members continued to hound him on the status of the team’s ace, Chris Sale.
Now Hahn did not throw a chair or pull off a bleep-filled rant like former skipper Ozzie Guillen. It still was apparent, though, that these endless questions about Sale are becoming too much. Hahn wants to focus on the team on the field instead of a guy on the disabled list.
Still, reporters are just doing their job when they ask about the face of the franchise. White Sox fans are excited when they witness the emergence of Jose Quintana or the inspiring story of Scott Carroll, but those two are not the man they expect to have at the top of their rotation for the next decade plus.
The increase of questions regarding Sale’s status nowadays stems from the Sox coming out and saying that the pitcher still must wait a couple more weeks to begin his rehab assignment. People believe that this contradicts management’s previous comments that the lefty’s injury was similar to ones he has sustained in the past which only took him out of action for a week or so.
Delaying his return to the ball club sparks red flags in the eyes of the beholder. Hahn has reiterated over and over again that this is all a precautionary measure. He is doing whatever it takes to ensure that Sale is not just ready for the rest of 2014, but also for long term. Keeping him on the shelf for as long as he sees fit is the right move just based on the situation the Sox are in right now.
This season the Sox were not expected to compete. 2014 was supposed to be a transition year as the young talent became acclimated with major league competition. With the White Sox in contention early on in the season, there is a feeling that the team should run out the players that give them the best chance to win. Having Sale go every fifth game would be following this mindset to help the team in the short term, but it could possibly derail success in the future.
Former White Sox general manager Kenny Williams made a living on making moves that benefited the present without regard for the future. Unlike his predecessor, Hahn has explained countless times that he will have a roster of players ready to compete but not at the expense of success down the road. While Sale may be dominant right out of the gate, if the team inserted him back in the rotation right now, they would be running the risk of damaging him long term. The Sox being competitive this season is an added bonus in the rebuilding movement the team is undertaking. That being said, the Sox would much rather have their ace pitching in postseason games in 2024 than in meaningless ones in May of 2014.