FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, David Price.
In the last two decades, the Red Sox have acquired several established All-Star pitchers, some with championship rings, some with Cy Young hardware, all with hard-earned reputations and maybe a little baggage.
Now it’s Chris Sale. He’s the new ace in town. And he comes to us with a four-seam fastball, a filthy slider, and a big bowl of bad-ass.
Sale met the Boston media en masse for the first time Tuesday afternoon at Fenway South and told us he’s all about winning and that he wants to get to the playoffs for the first time after seven years in the hardball purgatory of U.S. Cellular Field.
Red Sox baseball boss Dave Dombrowski traded the best prospect in baseball (Yoan Moncada) for Sale in December, and the Sox are hoping Sale can replicate his 2016 season, when he went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA, 233 strikeouts, and 6 complete games.
Sale’s new manager, president of baseball ops, and owners will be delighted if the 6-foot-6-inch lefty can post those kind of numbers without any of the shenanigans that marked his final season in Chicago.
In case you missed it, Sale last spring called his boss (Chicago executive vice president Kenny Williams) a liar, then earned a five-game suspension in midseason when he took a pair of scissors to a bunch of “throwback” uniforms that management wanted the players to wear for one of Sale’s starts.
In each instance, Sale said he was defending his teammates and attempting to foster a winning attitude in his own clubhouse. The spineless White Sox showed amazing patience with their star hurler. Not many players can pull those kinds of stunts and live to tell about it.
Sale avoided getting into specifics when asked about the episodes Tuesday, but acknowledged that he made mistakes.
“I’m a completely different person when I’m here and when I’m in between the painted lines,’’ he explained. “I can say that for sure. There’s definitely a switch that goes on.’’
Which umbrella would destroying the uniforms come under? Was that a “between-the-lines” issue?
“That wasn’t exactly between the lines,’’ he said. “It all goes into the passion I have for playing the game. Things are going to happen. Nobody’s perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. All I really want to say on that is you live and you learn.
“I have two sons now, a 6-year-old and a 2-month-old. And I tell them, ‘You’re going to make mistakes, but if you learn from your mistakes, that’s the key.’
“Everybody here has made a mistake. If you learn from it, you become a better person. If you keep making the same mistakes, you’re kind of spinning your tires.’’
Swell. Sale is telling us that cutting up the uniforms was a mistake. But we know he’s super competitive and he believed the White Sox were worrying about things other than winning when they suggested the throwback uniforms.
So where does that leave him in Boston? Perhaps no team engages in more marketing-driven schemes than the Boston Red Sox (fans on the field at all times, nonstop tours of the ballpark, brick sales, special-edition hats and uniforms). How will Sale react when that happens in Boston?
“I don’t think they have throwbacks here in Boston,’’ he said, laughing.
Hmmmm. It’s probably a good thing Larry Lucchino and Dr. Charles Steinberg have been mothballed by the Sox, but who knows what marketing stunts might be percolating in the minds of Tom Werner or the NESN domos? Hope Sale is OK with the green tops on St. Patrick’s Day when the Sox play host to the Astros at Fenway South.
Dombrowski said the Sox did not ask Sale about his 2016 outbursts when they made the deal.
“I’ve had players rip me,’’ said Dombrowski. “Gary Sheffield did it, and he and I sat down and talked about it and now we have a good relationship. I’m more concerned with what a guy’s teammates think of him, and our guys love him.
“I think Chris Sale would fit anywhere. He’s a very talented individual, he’s got great makeup. When I checked with the White Sox organization — we played them 19 times a year for a lot of years — I always heard great things about him as a teammate.
“When I was with Detroit, I never liked him when he pitched against us. He was going to give them a good chance to beat us. He was not afraid to do what he needed to win, to throw inside, and do what’s necessary.
“So when you have a guy that’s a quality individual, that’s got a great work ethic, that’s a good teammate, that’ll do anything on the mound to try to win, we’ll always welcome a guy like that.’’
“He’s an uncomfortable at-bat for a lefthanded hitter,’’ said manager John Farrell, “because of the arm slot and the body type and pure stuff that comes out of his hand.’’
Sale said all the right things in his 20-minute introductory presser. He presented as confident, humble, and intent on winning. We know he is not a fan of social media and is unlikely to get into the kind of fan debate that has plagued Price in his short stint as the Red Sox’ $217 million man.
“You’ve got a lot of banners here,’’ Sale said. “I’d like to add to that. I’m here to win.
“I expect a lot of myself. I demand a lot from myself. I’ll be harder on myself than you guys will.’’
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy.