Red Sox's Sale returns to Chicago to face former team

CHICAGO -- Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale faced a tough question from his 7-year-old son, Rylan, as he prepared for his Tuesday start against his former Chicago White Sox teammates.

Dad, the interviewer wanted to know, will you be nervous when you pitch at your old stadium?

"A little bit of me will be," Sale admitted to reporters on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. "But I think I'm more looking forward to this opportunity than any other emotion just because it's fun.

"I'm playing against my friends. It might be hard not to smile out there on the mound at a couple of them."

In his first season with Boston (27-23), Sale has plenty of reasons to smile. The lanky left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.34 ERA as he prepares for his 11th start. He has struck out a major-league-leading 101 batters in 73 innings.

Meanwhile, Chicago (24-26) is hovering below .500 in the first year of a long-term rebuilding project. The shift in philosophy is what prompted the White Sox to trade Sale to the Red Sox on Dec. 6 for a package of top prospects that included second baseman Yoan Moncada, right-hander Michael Kopech and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe.

Sale insists he harbors no hard feelings toward the White Sox despite several high-profile clashes with management during his final season in Chicago.

He ripped the front office after Adam LaRoche's sudden retirement in spring training last season. In July, the franchise suspended him five games for insubordination when he cut up throwback jerseys he disliked.

"More so than anything, I just want to let everyone know that I appreciated my time here," Sale said. "There's a couple blips on the radar amongst a lot of really good times. More times than not, it was great here, and I appreciated it. I always had good teammates. I always had a great coaching staff."

After Sale's exit, White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana (2-6, 4.82 ERA) inherited the role of staff ace. Quintana will oppose his former teammate on Tuesday night. In seven career starts against the Red Sox, Quintana is 3-0 with a 2.87 ERA.

Sale will be opposing Chicago for the first time in his eight-year career.

The Red Sox will not have second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the remainder of the series. Pedroia flew back to Boston after sustaining a wrist injury Monday in the series opener. The team announced the injury as a sprained left wrist, but it is possible that an MRI could show worse damage.

Quintana will look to bounce back from an ugly outing in which he allowed a season-high eight runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. He is winless in his past four starts.

"Throwing on the same day (as Sale) will be a different feeling for me because he was the best teammate I ever played with," Quintana said. "It will be a different feeling watching him go against me after the last four years when he was my teammate. We talked (Sunday night). He said, 'Hey, I'm in town. I can't wait to see you guys.' So I'm excited to play against him."

Sale said he had no regrets from his time in Chicago. He said he had a soft spot for White Sox fans for the way they treated him from 2010-16.

"They were great to me," Sale said. "They always gave me the benefit of the doubt. They always seemed to be in my corner, which I appreciated. I worked really hard when I was here, and I tried to give them everything I had. That's all you can basically do in this sport.

"Attitude and effort, they're the only two things you can control. I tried to give them everything I had. I hope they appreciated what I did for them as much as I appreciated what they did for me."

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