Sale: No intent behind inside pitch
July, 11, 2013
By Chuck Pleiness
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Special to ESPNChicago.com
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioAlexei Ramirez was angered by the pitch thrown behind him by Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen on Thursday.DETROIT – Chicago's Chris Sale swears there was no intention behind a pitch he threw in the fifth inning of the Chicago White Sox's 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
But that didn't stop the dugouts and both bullpens from clearing in the sixth when Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen threw behind Alexei Ramirez following Josh Phegley's grand slam.
Sale followed a two-out home run from Detroit's Miguel Cabrera with a fastball up and in on the first pitch to the next batter, Prince Fielder.
"I was just trying to rear back and throw it as hard as I could," Sale said. "I've said it before, there's a time and place for that, and that wasn't the time or the place. I wasn't even trying to send a message or even try and back him off the plate, honestly. I got a lot of respect for Prince, the Detroit Tigers and the game of baseball."
Fielder bent backward out of the way and then calmly walked around a bit in foul territory next to home plate.
"I think Sale, out of frustration, overthrows it," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "Then you see what happens and it turns into a mess."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland, who didn't speak to the media after the game, gestured from his dugout after the pitch to the umpire wondering why there was no warning.
After Putkonen threw behind Ramirez the next inning, the Sox shortstop gestured at the Tigers reliever as he walked slowly at him before being restrained by Detroit catcher Brayan Pena.
"[I] reacted just like any other player would have," Ramirez said through a translator. "Obviously, that wasn't a pitch that was intended to go in the zone. That pitch was intended to hurt me, and if you are hurting me, you're hurting my family, you're hurting my kids. So that's something you have to react to."
Sale felt bad Ramirez was thrown at.
"Any time one of your teammates have something like that happen because of something you did that's not fun," Sale said. "Obviously, I don't want to say it was intentionally or maybe it got away from him as well. But you see something like that and you feel like an even bigger idiot knowing that could have hurt him, injured him, done whatever and that was because of me."
Putkonen was surprised he was ejected.
"I wasn't trying to hit anybody," Putkonen said. "Just threw a fastball inside and it got away from me. I wasn't trying to hit anybody, so I was surprised I was ejected."
No punches were thrown during the melee that saw both bullpens empty out from the outfield.
Ramirez was the second batter Putkonen faced after getting De Aza to fly out to left field.
"From the outside looking in it doesn't look good," Sale said. "I looked at if after the game to see even how far in it was and even when I threw it on the mound I was like, 'Oh, nuts, that's not good.' Like I said before, I swear on everything I love there was no intention, no purpose and there was nothing behind it. Just trying to throw it too hard and missing my spot.
"Going out there and doing something childish like that, that's not who I am and that's not what I do. It was just one of those that just got away, and unfortunately it turned into something."
Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild made the ruling on Putkonen.
"He threw behind him and I deemed it intentional," Fairchild told a pool reporter.
As for the pitch Sale threw up-and-in to Fielder after Cabrera's home run it was the Tigers first baseman's reaction that led to the non-warning.
"There was no reaction from Fielder, he said nothing," Fairchild said. "There was no reaction from anyone else. The only reaction I saw was from Sale, who made a motion like, 'Damn, it got away.'"
Sale will convey all that to Leyland at the All-Star Game.
"Damn right I will," Sale said when asked if he'll tell Leyland the same thing at the break. "I promise on everything I love I wasn't trying to send a message, throw at him. Not even close."