Tag Archives: Ricky Renteria

An Ace Up His Sleeve?

After posting a 6.75 ERA during his stint with the Washington Nationals in 2016—which was followed by rumors that the team had tweaked his mechanics—there was lingering concern about White Sox newcomer Lucas Giolito. Giolito came as the headliner in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to Washington last December, teeing off the White Sox’s rebuilding efforts.

The trepidation was warranted as the 23 year-old certainly came with a mildly concerning resume. Giolito fell to the 16th round of the 2012 draft due to concerns about a sprained UCL, after many thought he would be taken in the first. Shortly after the draft, the Nationals scheduled Giolito for Tommy John surgery. Once he returned, the team began to work with Giolito on changing his delivery and, suddenly, the pitcher everyone expected to go in the first round looked as though his stock may be falling rapidly.

That was all before White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, though. Cooper has become renowned for helping reinvent pitchers simply by showing them how to maximize their efforts while being true to themselves on the mound. Cooper isn’t interested in stat sheets; he’s interested in good old-fashioned feel for the game.

“I don’t think his first trip to the big leagues with us could have went any better,” Cooper said enthusiastically of Giolito’s season. “It couldn’t have gone better.”

Giolito was shut down during the final week of the season for precautionary reasons and did not make his last scheduled start. “He’s had enough innings,” Cooper said. “There’s nothing left to prove this year. There’s nothing really to gain.”

Giolito seemed just as satisfied with his success this season as Cooper was.

“Overall, this was such a crazy year,” Giolito said. “I started not the way I wanted to. I had to kind of get over some trials and tribulations down in the Minor Leagues trying to fix some things, trying to find myself and see who I was as a pitcher.”

Giolito threw 45.1 innings over seven starts for the big league club, averaging just over six innings per start to the tune of a 2.38 ERA and 6.75 K/9. He lowered his walk rate from 5.05 BB/9 with the Nationals to just 2.38 with the White Sox.

“He’s throwing strikes with four pitches,” Cooper said. “He’s got angles, he can change speeds, he can ride the ball up in the zone. He’s done everything. He’s been great.”

But for Giolito, his sights are already set on new goals for 2018. “For me, it’s get prepared to throw 200 innings,” Giolito said. “I threw, like, 175-ish this year. I feel like the next step is to get to 200. So that will be a personal goal for me next season.”

“Obviously his stuff was lights out then, his stuff is lights out now,” catcher Kevan Smith said of Giolito’s time in the minors. “I think this year is just boosted his confidence. He can see that he can perform at this level.”

Giolito may have had to work through his trials and tribulations but it’s become evident that the Giolito that once was regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball is still alive and well.

“I feel very confident,” Giolito said. “I’ve hit that point where I trust all my pitches in any count, any situation. I feel like that’s what a top end of the rotation guy has to be able to do is pitch deep into games and put up as many zeroes as possible and at the same time trust all your stuff.”

The White Sox may have moved on from Eaton, who was considered a key piece of their future during the team’s prior attempt at contention, but what they’ve gained in Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who also came in the Eaton deal, are two young pitchers who have showed the ability to perform at the major league level and will become a pivotal piece of this club’s bright future.

“His personality and just the way he goes about his business, he’s a smart kid,” former White Sox pitcher Miguel Gonzalez said of Giolito. “He likes to learn, he asks questions just like any other guy that’s been getting called up “

With Carlos Rodon no longer a lock to begin the season with the club, the time is now for Giolito to step up to that 200-inning goal. He’ll be leaned on heavily in the near future, something that will help him become accustomed to that feeling for the coming years.

Perhaps for Giolito, all it took was getting back to basics coupled with regaining confidence. And of course, a little Don Cooper magic.

Is Jose Abreu Part of the White Sox Future?

When looking back at the White Sox’s extremely intriguing 2017 season, it’s hard not to immediately mention Jose Abreu.

Abreu is coming off his fourth season in the majors after being signed in October of 2013 to a six-year, $68 million deal and has had his best season since his rookie year in 2014.

But with Abreu approaching his age-31 season as a right-handed first baseman, questions loom as to whether or not Abreu has much of a future left on the South Side. Abreu currently has two years left on his six-year contract before he will become a free agent and the White Sox window of true contention doesn’t look to be opening up until around 2019 — Abreu’s age 33 season.

“They’re both special cases,” GM Rick Hahn said of Abreu and Avisail Garcia, who is also coming off of a stellar campaign. “And there are very strong arguments for them playing roles in 2020 and beyond. Abreu, obviously you can’t say enough about the season he had on the field, but [also] his importance in the role he plays in our clubhouse.”

As of September 29th, Abreu is hitting .306/.356/.556 with 33 home runs, the most since his rookie season. He has hit over 100 RBIs this season, marking the third season in which he has hit 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs.

This year, Abreu also became just the sixth White Sox player to hit for the cycle on September 9th, earning him a gift from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf — a commemorative ring to help celebrate his achievement.

“I would like to stay here forever,” Abreu said through the White Sox interpreter. “I would like to play with this team my whole career. But it is a business and we have to accept and respect what’s in the future. I would like to stay here forever.”

Abreu’s role in the clubhouse has become a pertinent piece in the discussion regarding his future. Abreu has taken on the role of a veteran leader in this clubhouse. He’s also been a friend and mentor to a precious piece of the White Sox’s future — Yoan Moncada. Moncada and Abreu grew up playing together in Cuba and have kept up a strong bond over the years. Having both Abreu serving as a mentor to both Moncada and the rest of the team’s budding youth could be considered a priceless asset.

“Most of the improvement or change since he first got here,” Hahn said, “It’s been with his comfort level in that clubhouse and the role of leader he has assumed, that he has always wanted to. We talked about that as far back as his rookie season—that that’s how he viewed himself and that’s what he wanted to be for this organization. But I think you’ve seen more public examples than you were able to see in the past of him playing that role for this club.”

Thankfully for the White Sox and Abreu, there’s no rush to make any decisions just yet. “Frankly, those decisions don’t have to be made this offseason,” Hahn said of entertaining the idea of moving the first baseman. “[He’s] controllable through 2019. We have the luxury, if we want, to play it out another year [or] play it out another half-a-year to see if the performance continues, see if the trade market changes.”

Hahn cited another important move that White Sox made this season that could have been made earlier, but the timing wasn’t right.

“As was the case when we sat here with [Jose] Quintana a year ago,” Hahn said, “yes, he was potentially a trade candidate, but the market didn’t respond the way we had anticipated, so we had to wait. There isn’t a firm answer right now. We don’t know what the options are. One of them conceivably is extending, and we have to wait and see what that cost entails.”

But Hahn realizes that luxury isn’t always afforded for long. “Sometimes a player needs to see what their free agent value is,” Hahn said. “And they perhaps have a different view of what their value is than what the market tells them it is. You’ve certainly seen a lot of players who have had to go out into the market, get whatever information they needed, and then return back to our club.”

Whether Abreu has a long term future in a Sox uniform remains to be seen right now. But the important part is that he’s continuing to make strides that indicate he’s still healthy and strong as ever, and has made a lasting impression on the White Sox’s young clubhouse. That impression cannot be erased, so even should the future find Abreu’s locker empty, his legacy will linger throughout the clubhouse as this team climbs to it’s bright, promising future.

Unsung Narvaez is the Patient Type

It’s been a silent triumph on the South Side for catcher Omar Narvaez—who manager Rick Renteria hinted may return as part of the fold in 2018 pending the arrival of catching prospect Zack Collins. Collins just finished out his season in Double-A Birmingham after a late season promotion.

Narvaez is top-four among MLB catchers in walk rate, on-base percentage, and strikeout-to-walk-rate—something I’m sure at least a few folks would be surprised to hear.

Also, Narvaez is currently holding onto an on-base percentage of .375, just behind San Francisco’s future Hall of Fame catcher Buster Posey. That’s quite the company.

“I just try to go hit one pitch and make sure it’s in a good spot when I hit it,” Narvaez said, attempting to uncover what makes his plate approach so unique. “That’s really it. I try to not swing when it’s not my pitch.”

That statement holds true when looking at Narvaez’s plate discipline numbers. He swings at just 43 percent of pitches he sees, putting him seventh in the league among catchers. He also has a swinging strike rate of just 5.5 percent and has the sixth lowest strikeout rate among catchers. What’s more, Narvaez makes contact on pitches in the strike zone 92 percent of the time, a top-three number in baseball for catchers.

”It’s just a continuation of his ability to control the strike zone,” Manager Rick Renteria said of Narvaez’s success at the plate. “He hits lefties well, he hits righties well. He just gives you a good at-bat and I think that’s continued to develop. He’s been more and more comfortable in the box, and he’s getting to know some of the guys that he’s been facing over time.”

While Narvaez is showing off his plate discipline at the dish, his lack of power may look a bit concerning. He currently has the second-lowest slugging average among catchers in baseball and has only hit two homers all season. But, when looking at his overall performance, Narvaez makes up what he lacks in power in his ability to take walks and hit the ball for quality contact, and he’s fine with that.

“I just try to be myself,” Narvaez said. “All the minor leagues are about are obviously [to] get there and you also have to know yourself and who you are. I’m not a home run guy and I already know that. I’m not afraid of ground balls up the middle”

Despite having a -3.9 in framing runs on the season and low power numbers, Narvaez still managed to pull of a season in which he has a wRC+ of 101, making him just around league average value, coupled with a 1.4 fWAR.

“I just try to keep from doing too much, you can see when I was trying to do too much was in the first half and I wasn’t that good. Second half was going back to who I really am and just trying to keep myself calm.” Narvaez said.

According to Narvaez, the roots of his patient plate approach date back to when he was a child. “It’s just something I learned from minor leagues and that my dad always taught me,” Narvaez said. “Going back to when I was ten years old, if you look back, all my family plays baseball. I kind of have that in my blood. Just listening at the dinners we had as a family it’s all about baseball, I was a kid running around but still listening to what they were talking about and I learned a lot.”

When it comes to that signature plate approach, Narvaez has a player that reminds him of himself in mind.

“Joe Mauer is kind of like me,” Narvaez said.

Mauer had a career high OBP of .444 in 2009 and has managed to maintain a career on-base percentage of .391. Not a bad player to take cues from.

“He’s kind of an opposite way guy, there’s just something about watching him in the big leagues. It’s a lot of fun,” Narvaez said.

Narvaez is correct. Mauer has a career opposite field percentage of 38 percent, as opposed to his career 24 percent pull rate. Narvaez has a career 35 percent opposite field percentage, and a pull percentage just a tad lower at 33 percent.

While Narvaez may not receive a ton of time behind the dish, and may not be as well recognized as newcomer Kevan Smith, his ability to keep his strikeout rate low and get on base are invaluable. What he lacks in power, he makes up for in plate patience and high contact rates. If Narvaez does end up back in a White Sox uniform in 2018, you’ll certainly be able to catch him on the base paths almost as much as you do behind the plate.

Michael Kopech Day at Guaranteed Rate Field

“I don’t want to smile too big right now because I might knock the lights out of this place, but we’re very excited,” Manager Rick Renteria said to the media on Wednesday, the day that Michael Kopech made his visit to Guaranteed Rate Field.

“This is the first time I actually got to see the stadium,” Kopech said as he sat in the dugout and gazed upon his future playing field. “So, for me, this was the coolest part [of Chicago]. It’s what I really wanted to see.”

Kopech, standing at 6’3” with a sturdy frame, signature golden blonde locks and piercing blue eyes, brought with him the confidence of someone who had set foot in a major league dugout plenty of times before.

“He’s a very even-keeled young man,” Renteria said of Kopech. “He’s very mature. I think he’s growing in confidence. Obviously anybody we’ve spoken to about him shares that he is a confident man who trusts in the stuff that he has and that continues to grow. And not in an arrogant way but in a quiet, confident type of approach which we love.”

Kopech discussed many topics but the central focus was certainly around how satisfied he was with the successful season he had in Birmingham while completing a full workload for the first time in his career—something he’ll need to be prepared for come next season.

“To me, I think it was such a big goal because, it wasn’t only a goal for me it felt like a group goal,” Kopech told White Sox Weekly about completing 134 innings of work this season. “It felt like an organization goal. Everybody wanted to see me get that full innings load and I finally got it—finished healthy. I didn’t finish with much fatigue. Just the fact that I was able to reach that milestone and get ready for next year, I think coming from the organization [it’s] a very important part and for me a very important part considering I threw more this year than I did the last two seasons combined.”

Kopech had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of in his short time as part of the White Sox organization so far, including his well-warranted promotion to Triple-A Charlotte.

“Especially with the couple months that I had done well in Birmingham, I don’t want to say I felt like I deserved [the promotion] but at the same time,” Kopech said, “to see that the organization was just as excited about what I was doing as I was, it meant a lot to me.”

Kopech admits that it hasn’t been an easy journey to become the pitcher he is today; one who finished the season as the White Sox’s minor-league pitcher of the month for September with 172 strikeouts in 134 innings. He was quick to point out his struggles in June—a month in which he had a 6.95 ERA.

“June was a rough time for me,” Kopech said. “I still got invited to an All-Star game, shortly after that to the Futures Game. I think it was throwing more strikes early in counts [was key]. It really helped me get deeper in games. It helped me get ahead of guys early and helped me create outs earlier in counts. That really helped me move along in games.”

“In Birmingham I got into a rhythm, a groove almost to where I felt like I was almost unhittable,” Kopech continued. “And it wasn’t anything special, I wasn’t doing anything different, I was just throwing more strikes. I realized that as simple as it sounds, filling up a zone is going to put the pressure on the hitter versus the pitcher and when I was able to do that, it felt like I was in control of the whole game.”

As a high-velocity pitcher, something the White Sox have experience working with during the Chris Sale years, Renteria isn’t concerned about tweaking anything Kopech does right now. That comes with time. “I think with experience, I think when you have the kind of stuff that he has, he does have swing and miss stuff and we all know that guys that have swing and miss stuff many times end up driving their pitch counts up and you let them get a foul ball here and there, but I think experience will start to show them what they need to know in terms of what kind of mix they need to present in that particular at bat,” Renteria said. “I think you allow a stallion to run and then you make adjustments.”

As far as that stallion being let loose on the playing field, Kopech is ready. “I brought my glove if they need me,” Kopech said. But patience is a virtue that Kopech had to learn. “I would talk to the other guys on our staff down there, we were going through the same thing,” he said.

“We’re thinking about a promotion, we’re thinking about the next start, you’re trying to balance out what’s most important to focus on at the time and it almost got to the point where I had to forget about being promoted at all. I had to think that this is where I’m going to finish the year, this is what I’m going to do. All I’m going to do is go out there and compete my best my next start. So when I got into that mindset to just go start by start I really think that was what kind of locked me in for the rest of the year.”

Kopech has had an interesting path to the majors, but his makeup, and extremely underrated yet vital aspect of joining a major league club with success, was on display for all to see on Wednesday. For the White Sox, their future is on the horizon, and the picture is coming together rapidly. And it certainly is a pretty one.

Eloy Jimenez Makes First Appearance at Guaranteed Rate Field

“I truly believe that I can be playing here right now,” Eloy Jimenez told the media on Tuesday during his formal introduction to the park he will soon call home. “In my mind, I’m ready. But I have to wait.”

Jimenez, 20, was the headliner in the deal that sent left-hander Jose Quintana to the Cubs on July, 14th. Since moving to the White Sox’s Double-A Birmingham affiliate, Jimenez has hit an impressive .353/.397/.559 with 16 strikeouts in 68 at bats.

Jimenez’s demeanor is that of someone well beyond his years, and his skill set is one that demands attention as he continues to dominant throughout the minors. But Jimenez remains very humble and self aware. When asked if he he’ll be a star, his answer is “Of course.”

“That’s why I’m working hard every day.” Jimenez said. “I want to be the best player on the field every time I go out. That’s why I’m working hard. I don’t want to be just another player. I want to be the best player.”

Manager Rick Renteria has been sufficiently impressed with what he’s seen from Jimenez this season. “We’ve seen quite a bit of [him], obviously he’s a young man with some power,” Renteria said. “He can play the field and on top of that we’ve watched some of the interviews he’s given, he’s a pretty bright young man. It’s going to be nice to see these guys as they continue to move forward in their careers with hopes that they’re going to be a part of a tremendous future here in Chicago.”

It was easy to see a picture in which Jimenez is a mainstay on the South Side as he shook hands with his future teammates, watched batting practice alongside his future hitting coach, Todd Steverson, and enjoyed a warm welcome from some of his future teammates.

“[Carson] Fulmer gave me a very good welcome,” Jimenez said. “He made me feel like I’m part of the roster here. I also met with the manager, the coaches. I’m excited. They all treat me in a good way and I’m just very, very excited.”

Jimenez knows his work isn’t done though. He may feel ready to be slotted into the lineup during his time in Chicago on Tuesday but he still has improvements to make before he can take the big stage.

“I have to improve all around my game,” Jimenez said. “I don’t think it’s any specific area that I have to improve more than another. I have to keep learning about the game because every day you can learn something different. That’s the way I like to approach my day on a daily basis. That’s the way I like to think; work hard every day and try to learn and improve every day in all the aspects of the game.”

Part of that improvement will begin this offseason, as Jimenez said he plans to take part in the Dominican Winter League. As for Renteria, he thinks that the organization will need to sit down with Jimenez and help him make that decision when the time comes.

“Everybody gains what they want to get out of it, some people go with it willingly, some people go not wanting to really go and don’t get a whole lot,” Renteria said. “If he decides and the organization decides that that’s something that he should do, we will talk about it. If he wants to do it obviously everybody has to be on board with something like that.”

“It kind of helps people to see the game from a different perspective,” Renteria said of Winter League baseball. “Because you have some of the best of the best going out there competing and performing, but I think that we will come to some conclusion about what we want him to do.”

As old familiar faces begin to pack their bags in the White Sox clubhouse and new ones take their place, Manager Rick Renteria can’t help but think about the future on the South Side.

“A couple days ago, I’ll be honest I sat back and started writing all the names on the board of the players we have within the system, the kids that have been within the system, and the kids we’ve acquired,” Renteria said. “You start looking and you think we’re poised to hopefully help these guys get better and make them a part of the Chicago White Sox at the major league level. The names that are on that board are nice to see.”

Holland Released–

The White Sox announced the release of veteran left-handed starter Derek Holland on Tuesday. Holland, 30, had a rather turbulent year with the White Sox, pitching to a 6.20 ERA with a 6.42 FIP. He allowed 31 home runs in 135 innings.

“With the young men coming up, it was going to cut into his usage,” Renteria said of the move. “That’s what it was. He was awesome when we spoke to him last night, he was very grateful for the opportunity. He was very happy to get through the season healthy. He was disappointed he wasn’t able to do more, he really wanted to come in and perform better but I think with the guys we’ve brought up are going to be the ones that are going to taking those innings.”

“Derek was a great teammate,” pitcher James Shields said. “All of the guys liked him around here. He went out there every five days and pitched with his heart. The guy cared about baseball and is a tremendous human being. It’s always tough to lose a guy like that.”

The White Sox promoted left-handed reliever Jace Fry to take Holland’s roster spot. Fry, who has undergone Tommy John surgery twice, will making his first appearance in the majors on Tuesday. He spent the entire 2017 season with Double-A Birmingham and pitched 45 innings with 52 strikeouts while posting a 2.78 ERA.

Kopech, Jimenez to Visit Future Work Place

Over the next week, top White Sox prospects Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez will visit Guaranteed Rate Field. They’re not being put on the roster, mind you. It’s just a meet and greet for two bright young prospects who may hold the fate of the franchise in their talented hands.

No biggie.

Kopech, who tore through his aggressive AA assignment this season and finished the year with three starts at AAA Charlotte, may be the best pitching prospect in all of baseball. He’ll certainly be in the discussion when the Sox start camp in Glendale in 2018. In fact, White Sox Scouting Director Nick Hosteler has mentioned that Kopech could compete for a job in the Big League rotation while in camp next year.

More likely, because of service time and time tables, Kopech starts the year in Charlotte and gets a full dose of seasoning at the penultimate minor league level. It’s entirely possible he pitches himself into the White Sox rotation come August.

Eloy Jimenez, who handled a late promotion to AA with aplomb, torched minor league pitching this year. He is, now that Yoan Moncada is a major-league regular, the top positional prospect in the White Sox organization. Jimenez was praised by Sox manager Ricky Renteria for putting in a significant amount of work into learning English, and maintaining a positive attitude that permeates through his team. Though, it’s hard to imagine not being positive after slashing .312/.378/.570 across two levels this year.

Giolito Shines on Sunday

White Sox rookie Lucas Giolito took the mound on Sunday looking to be a different guy than he was in his first start of 2017.

In his debut against the Twins, he gave up four runs on three home runs; each homer came on a fastball. The curveball, Giolito said after the start, wasn’t there the way he’d have liked and it forced the young right hander to throw the heater.

In Sunday’s start against the Tigers, which saw Giolito go 7 scoreless innings and give up just three hits, three walks and strike out four, the curveball seemed to have much better shape and command. All in all, it was a big step forward for the young man who started the season reworking his mechanics in AAA. What’s more, the White Sox won their 51st game of the year by beating the Tigers, 7-1.

Especially poignant in Sunday’s game was Giolito’s final inning of work. After retiring Miguel Cabrera and Nicholas Castellanos to start the inning, he walked Mikie Mattock, gave up a single to John Hicks, and walked Jacoby Jones. It was the biggest trouble-spot of the day.

Manager Ricky Renteria came out to talk with his young charge and, instead of pulling him for a fresh bullpen arm, left him in the game to finish his work.

The next pitch to Jose Iglesias went over the fence in left for a grand slam.

At least, that’s what the umpires thought. Iglesias had pounded a ball, that’s for sure, but it went foul–just a few feet left of the foul pole. The call was reversed, Giolito hung in and got Iglesias to ground out, and the White Sox kept the shutout alive.

It would be Giolito’s last inning but the final lesson learned might have been the most powerful.

As the Sox finish out the month of August and head into September, Giolito’s starts (as well as Reynaldo Lopez’ once he’s off the disabled list) are the can’t-miss games for the Sox. As they develop and begin to mesh with Carlo Rodon, the White Sox could get a large piece of the puzzle figured out.

As August Grinds, More Injuries for the Sox

In the dog days of August, as players are accumulating around 500 at-bats worth of wear and tear, the disabled list accumulates casualties. Every team goes through it but, lately, it seems like a never-ending parade for the White Sox with the Yoan Moncada newest member of the DL.

Moncada was placed on the 10-day DL Friday after having an MRI, as well as a blood test to check his vitamin D levels, and was diagnosed with shin splits and a contusion. Thankfully, none of this is newly emerged, Moncada was sidelined with shin splints for two games on August 19 and 20.

“It’s a bruise on his shin,” Manager Rick Renteria said. “So, we’re going to keep him off his feet, let it calm down and we’ll see where he’s at in a few days. I think we’re going to keep him with inactivity for seven days. Let it calm down. I know that we’d given him a couple of days and it calmed down significantly, in terms of his opinion. He just aggravated it with a misstep at third yesterday. It was a left foot misstep and then a right step on the bag. It seemed kind of awkward, so he irritated it.”

Moncada is hopeful that the injury won’t keep him off the field for much longer than the 10-days. “For now, it’s going to be just the 10 days,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “But it’s going to depend on how the rehabilitation is going. I don’t like to be injured. No one likes to be on the DL. But there is nothing I can do about it. It is the best in this moment for me. I have to rest.”

Renteria is not concerned that the time Moncada spends sidelined will affect the progress he’s made this season. “Honestly, you could see him progressing,” Renteria said. “Both at the plate and in the field. Any injury or any time down for anybody is never a good time, but as far as where he’s at, we know he’s moving forward in a positive direction. We’ll just deal with it and see if we can get him back on track once he’s back on the field again.”

Moncada is currently hitting .188/.328/.356 on the season with three home runs and one stolen base. The most impressive thing Moncada has brought to the majors? His plate discipline. Moncada is currently walking at a 15.6 percent clip, which is helping keep his on-base percentage at a healthy level despite the low batting average and menial power numbers.

Moncada isn’t satisfied, though. He wants to improve and will always look for ways to do so — as soon as he can get back on the field. “I think the results haven’t been as good as I was expecting,” he said. “But now I’m just trying to get my focus and my learning process and to be prepared for next year.”

Another new young face may be seeing his first big-league trip to the DL soon. The White Sox scratched the recent White Sox under-the-radar sensation Nicky Delmonico from Friday’s lineup against the Detroit Tigers due to a sprained right wrist.

“We took an X-ray and there was nothing structurally, as far as the regular X-ray is concerned,” Renteria said pregame. “He took a swing, felt it. So, we’re sending him out to get an MRI and we won’t know until we get that back. So, I can’t comment on where he is, in terms of what degree of injury it is, if it’s long lasting or if it’s game by game.”

Delmonico began feeling pain around the third at-bat of Thursday’s game against the Twins, but stayed in the game, according to Renteria.

“He went up for the last at bat, and he didn’t mention anything to us during the game last night. But this morning he woke up and was uncomfortable. We sent him out to get the X-ray. Nothing structurally wrong. Now with the swing and pain, we’re going to send him back to get an MRI.”

The White Sox should have more information available on Delmonico’s status this weekend.

Updates on a Few Injured Sox

The White Sox family expanded by one today—and not in the form of a new player being promoted.

Avisail Garcia and his wife welcomed the couple’s second child Thursday, a boy that they have named simply “Avi.”

Garcia, who was not in the White Sox lineup on Thursday in anticipation of the birth of his child, will likely be ready to go for tomorrow’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“I know, had we been out of town, he probably would take his [paternity] leave,” Manager Rick Renteria said of Garcia. “But it seems like he might be able and available for us tomorrow, so we’ll play it by ear.”

“I’m going to give him as much time as he needs,” Renteria said. “If he wants to come in late to be able to come out and play tomorrow night I’ll do that. Anything I can do to accommodate, whatever he wants to do to allow him to be here with us.”

Since Garcia was reinstated from the disabled list, he has been on a tear in the month of August, hitting .420/.455/.500. He’s only struck out nine times in 50 at-bats.

“His at-bats have been pretty good,” Renteria said. “Yesterday he ended up driving a ball to the right side that was a pretty good pitch, he’s looked fine.”

White Sox catcher Geovany Soto is still on the road to recovery after being placed on the 60-day DL in May while he underwent arthroscopic elbow debridement surgery.

“Physically everything is 100% inside the arm, they’re just kind of waiting on the healing and on the process of strengthening so that’s where I’m at right now,” Soto said on Thursday.

“We still have to see how everything responds and everything has been going great. So, I just want to feed off of that and just worry about that right now.”

Soto is not currently participating in baseball activity and is mainly working on strengthening his arm in anticipation of his return to play.

Despite his lack of time spent on the field, Soto has been keeping a close eye on White Sox’s progression lately, and still looks for ways to contribute inside the clubhouse.

“We’ve got great guys here, the most important is that they come up here and they want to learn,” Soto said of the recent influx of new young talent, particularly pitchers. “They want to get with the program, and a lot of them look for help and it’s really refreshing to see. We’re here to help them and guide them. I’ve been around and every time they come home I try to help them out, give them my two cents whatever the situation might be to try to help them.”

After 13 years in the majors, Renteria knows that despite Soto’s playing time this season, he is still able to serve as a strong veteran catching leader.

“Obviously his experience, his time, conversations when he’s watching catchers take the hitter through a particular sequence, once they come in [he might] share with them the confirmation that they did a nice job,” Renteria said of Soto.

“[He offers] validation as to what [hitters] did in that particular situation or [he might] talk them through something that they might have done a little differently in order to help a pitcher through,” Renteria continued. “He’s been around, he can see things from the dugout, he can see what the catchers are doing he can see what the pitchers are doing and just continue to relate and have conversations [with players].”

No time table has been set for Soto’s return.

Matt Davidson has began in rehab assignment with the Charlotte Knights, after a rainout on Wednesday, Davidson started as a the designated hitter in the makeup game on Thursday afternoon. He went 0-3 with three strikeouts against Norfolk. Davidson is currently rehabbing the injury he sustained after taking a pitch off the wrist from Marcus Stroman, and was placed on the DL on August 4 for a bruised wrist.

Lopez Lights up the Gun in Sox Debut

Reynaldo Lopez gave up two home runs and walked three batters in his White Sox debut.

Doesn’t sound quite that promising does it? There is much more to the story than the tale of the tape, though.

Lopez, calm and collected during his debut on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, put on quite the show. His first pitch to Royals leadoff man Whit Merrifield lit up the gun at 97 mph and the heat didn’t stop there.

With six strong innings of work, a longer outing than Lopez had recorded during his last three starts with the Charlotte Knights, Lopez struck out six batters and kept pumping his fastball at 97 mph — even flirting with 99 mph on a few pitches.

Lopez made it clear that hitting 97 mph early on wasn’t simply to be chalked up to excitement.

“I don’t think it was part of the excitement or the adrenaline,” Lopez said. “That was just part of my preparation and all the work that I did in my workout and in the gym and that was the way that it showed up today. I mean, I wasn’t over excited. I was calm.”

“He looked comfortable,” Manager Rick Renteria said of Lopez postgame. “He didn’t look very nervous to be honest. He looked like he was in the right place. Everything he did was very much under control. He looked very happy to be here.”

The only runs Lopez allowed to score on the evening were two solo shots to Mike Moustakas, his 33rd and 34th homers of the season.

Catcher Kevan Smith noted that Moustakas was playing a dangerous game taking a chance on those pitches. “He was hitting fastballs of [Lopez] that were almost going to hit him and I was like “What’s this guy thinking here?” We struck him out in his first at bat, and obviously he got him in his second two but those are all at-bats that we can learn from.”

After walking three batters Friday night and a combined nine in his last three starts at Charlotte, control is still an issue that may tarnish Lopez’s seemingly perfect arsenal, but at just 23-years old, Lopez isn’t a finished product just yet. He’s simply in the next stage of his development.

Lopez has the confidence to not become derailed as he continues to grow, a very strong asset for a young pitcher such as himself. “As a pitcher, I know that I’m going to allow some hits,” Lopez said. “But I think that the key is just to keep your focus on the game and keep your confidence and that was what all I did.”

Lopez made the 18,137 hold their breath as he allowed three straight hits on three pitches in the fourth inning with just one out, already laboring at nearly 60 pitches.

“I thought that was his best inning to test him,” Kevan Smith said of the inning. “I think he got through that great. Obviously had a couple hits off him there but he kept his poise he made some great pitches in some counts that he was behind on that I was proud of him about. … That was a great inning for him to have there because he was kind of cruising a little bit and I was like, ‘When is he going to hit some adversity here?’ So, he got it and he got through it and it was a good run. I told him, ‘That was a terrific outing. Let’s see what our mistakes were and where we can get better and just keep working hard.’”

Lopez’s curveball, averaging 79 mph on the evening, was extremely impressive and garnered five swinging strikes. The curveball gives Lopez a pitch with a 17 mph disparity from his fastball, which averaged 97 mph, and gave him an excellent pitch to use to change eye levels on hitters.

The White Sox earned their fourth straight victory as they beat the Royals 6-3 on Friday evening. Lopez left the game in the sixth tied at two, giving him a no-decision on his first White Sox start. Rookie reliever Aaron Bummer gained his first big league win on the evening.

So far this season, the two biggest call ups the White Sox have seen in Yoan Moncada and now Lopez have done nothing but impress — a good sign for a strong future.

Delmonico Stakes Claim with White Sox

Kdolson20 (WikiPedia)

 

Nicky Delmonico has been on the ride of his life. It’s been just nine days since he was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to replace an injured Willy Garcia and he’s been nothing short of a pleasant surprise on the South Side. Delmonico has hit safely in eight straight games and he continued his hot start by going 3-for-4 on Wednesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria has been high on Delmonico since he joined the team, stating that he has an “it” factor, and Delmonico certainly has been showing “it.”

“He has worked through a lot of adversity and he’s the type of player we want,” Renteria said of Delmonico after he joined the club.

Delmonico has already checked his first big league home run off of his list after hitting a blast off reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello last Thursday at Fenway Park. On his first night with the White Sox, he got his first major league hit off of Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. He also recorded his second three-hit game on Wednesday evening and is currently slashing .400/.455/.500. While not sustainable over a long period of time, that’s still a very strong and impressive start to a big league career.

Delmonico has only struck out eight times in 33 plate appearances going into Thursday—a 24 percent strikeout rate. Considering the small sample size and the amount of big league pitching Delmonico has seen, that’s a sign that he has a solid plan when he walks up to the batter’s box each night.

That plan is reflected in Delmonico’s steady 9.1 percent walk rate, one of the highest on the team.

“It’s kind of just my approach,” Delmonico said of the patience he’s demonstrated at the plate. “It’s just like middle [of the field], just see balls up. I felt like since I got here I’ve felt pretty comfortable. I’m not trying to do to much, just try to stay as simple as possible and I think that’s helped me not chase as much. Here the strike zone is a little smaller so I’m trying to shrink my zone and just look more up.”

Staying calm, focused and patient—traits that Delmonico has on display at all times—has certainly been strong contributing factors to his success thus far.

Check out what Delmonico is swinging at and, remember, he’s never seen big league pitching before. It’s not as if facing Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz in his first handful of games was an easy way to break into the big leagues.

Delmonico is barely swinging at pitches outside the zone. As a matter of fact, Delmonico is swinging at pitches in the zone a remarkable 72 percent of the time while swinging at offerings outside the zone just 22 percent of the time. That’s quite a tailored approach for a player who doesn’t have 40 plate appearances under his belt yet.

Delmonico attributes White Sox hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger to his keen eye at the plate. “Mike Gellinger taught me a lot,” Delmonico said. “I think working with him in the offseason was the best thing for me, I felt like I’ve come a long way this year with him.”

Delmonico is an infielder whose natural position is third base but the White Sox are looking to get the 25-year old rookie his reps in the outfield. “I feel good [in left], just out there everyday doing early work and trying to get more comfortable with that,” Delmonico said.

“Nicky’s been doing a really nice job,” Renteria said. “Obviously he’s come out swinging the bat. He’s played left field for us. Right now we have him DH-ing. He’ll be back out in the field. We’re mixing these guys in. He’s done a nice job.”

Delmonico attributes much of his success in his new position to former White Sox player and now outfield and base running coordinator Aaron Rowand. “I remember last year, the first time I played there, I called him and I was like ‘Hey, you need to get to Charlotte quick and help me.’” Delmonico said of his first time in left. “He’s helped me even when he’s not here, he helps me over the phone or over text, just little things here and there.”

While Delmonico isn’t exactly young in baseball years, and may not have a place as a starter on this White Sox team that has a bright future rich with outfielders, as a left-handed bat, Delmonico could potentially become a useful bench option moving forward.

For now, Renteria remains a buyer on Delmonico’s stock. “Nicky’s been doing a really nice job,” Renteria said. “He’s carrying himself very, very well. He prepares very well. Very calm at the plate. Very calm in the field. I still say he’s got the ‘it’ factor. I think he understands his role. I think anytime he’s gets an opportunity to play he gives you the best of what he’s got and I think he understands what’s going on between the lines.”

While the White Sox may be knee deep in a rebuilding process, they certainly have had a few surprise stories this season to keep an eye on. Delmonico is the latest.

Garcia Hits the DL, Sox Send Swarzak to Milwaukee

After a scorching start that gave many South Siders hope for his future, White Sox All-Star right fielder Avisail Garcia will hit the DL with a ligament strain in his right thumb. Garcia said the issue has been bothering him for about a week now and, as he continued to play through it, he realized it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

“It’s been like this one week and getting worse, worse, worse,” Garcia said before Wednesday’s Crosstown Classic took the stage at Guaranteed Rate Field. “So, that’s why I decided to stop because my swing is not the same and I don’t want to keep playing like this.”

White Sox GM Rick Hahn made the announcement prior to Wednesday’s game, and said that it should sideline Garcia for “a couple of weeks.” The injury doesn’t look to require surgery at this time.

“At this point there’s no indication whatsoever that he needs a procedure,” Hahn said. “It’s just a matter of letting the thumb heal and getting him back out there.”

Garcia pointed out his recent struggles and attributed them to the lingering injury. “You could see yesterday, 0-for-5,” Garcia said about Tuesday’s matchup at Wrigley Field.

“I’ve been swinging too much with my shoulders. Trying to force it. I don’t have to force it,” Garcia said. “If something’s wrong I have to stop because I want to help my team. I don’t want this to happen. But it happened. That’s baseball. Anything can happen so I’ve just got to take care of this and be back and ready.”

Garcia is coming off the first All-Star selection of his career and a strong campaign in which he was hitting .303/.347/.485 with a career-tying 13 home runs. He was also was sporting the highest wRC+ of his career at 121.

The White Sox will be making a corresponding roster move with Garcia headed for the DL which will be announced either Wednesday evening or Thursday.

The familiar faces in the South Side clubhouse continue to dwindle as the trade deadline nears with the most recent departure coming on Tuesday evening. The White Sox sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfield prospect Ryan Cordell.

“We feel we picked up another interesting prospect in Ryan,” Hahn said of the acquisition. “Scouts are very enthusiastic about his ability, his diverse skill set. He’s got some power, some speed, some versatility on the field, can play all three outfield positions. He does have some history of playing some third base as recently as this year. And he’s going to provide us with an intriguing player here in the coming months,” he continued.

Cordell is currently on the disabled list with a back strain that will likely keep him from seeing action right away.

“We’re going to have him examined by our doctors in Chicago, but we feel like this is probably going to take another few weeks to resolve,” Hahn said. “And there’s a chance that we don’t see him in action till closer to instructional league. But in terms of long-term prognosis, this injury should be a non-factor in his development, and we look forward to having him in action.”

Swarzak, who had a spectacular final outing as a member of the White Sox at Wrigley Field on Monday in which he struck out two batters and walked one, was one of the final remaining pieces in the White Sox bullpen which now only has two members that were present on the Opening Day roster.

“Yeah, it’s a little sad, when you see friends and teammates go,” reliever Dan Jennings said of the recent bullpen depletion. “You don’t want to sit here and say it’s the end of the road because we still have a lot of games to play and we’re still going to do our best to win every game.”

Swarzak certainly was deemed a valuable asset this season for a team looking for a closer such as the Brewers. In 48 innings of work this season, Swarzak put up a 2.23 ERA with a nearly-matching 2.34 FIP. He was striking out 9.68 batters per nine, walking just 2.41, and had allowed just two home runs.

A familiar face returned to the clubhouse Wednesday as reliever Jake Petricka was activated from the disabled list to help shore up the White Sox bullpen. Petricka has been on the DL since June 29 with a right elbow strain.

“It has been a mental grind especially with the hip injury last year,” Petricka said of his string of injuries. “So, if anything, I’ve just learned a lot more about myself off the field then on the field. And now it’s time to re-establish myself on the field.”

Petricka was not scored on over five outings during his rehab assignment at Triple A Charlotte. “It felt really good. A lot better command and just everything was very good,” Petricka said of his rehab assignment.

Manager Rick Renteria noted that he will be using Petricka in later innings to help fill the gap left by the departure of Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and now Swarzak.

“Obviously, Petricka has been used in the past in many different roles from kind of a fireman role to a setup to closer,” Renteria said. “So we’re just going to kinda slot these guys where we think we can use them. Obviously everybody is available to us in different situations, we have an opportunity right now to show what they’re capable of doing.”

Moncada has Landed

“He’s an outstanding player and I’m going to be here right by his side to help him with anything he needs.”

The gleam in White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s eyes was unmistakable Wednesday afternoon as the media gathered around him to ask questions unrelated to him for nearly ten minutes. Abreu couldn’t have seemed more sincere and heartfelt when he spoke of new White Sox second baseman, friend, and fellow countryman Yoan Moncada.

Moncada was called up after a flurry of moves after Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. One of them included the recall of baseball’s number one prospect. Somehow, from the small Cuban town that is Cienfuegos, located about 150 miles from Havana, Abreu and Moncada managed to reunite. This time, on the game’s biggest stage.

“When I made my debut with this team Alexei [Ramirez] and [Adrian] Nieto were here and they helped me a lot to get through this new process, to get through that first season,” Abreu said recounting his White Sox debut in 2014. “I appreciate that. And that’s why now I want to give Moncada as much as I know and as much help as I can give him,” Abreu continued. “It’s an honor, to be playing with someone who is from my same country, and from my same town and that’s why I take a lot of pride in helping him to get better.”

Abreu even went as far as becoming Moncada’s personal driver, picking him up at the airport upon his arrival to Chicago. “I asked him in the morning if he can pick me up at the airport and he did it,” Moncada said. “I was glad to see him there and we talked a little about everything—nothing in specific.” These two go way back, Moncada remembers  Abreu as “the superstar” of their hometown when he was just 15-years-old. “At that moment in Cuba, he was the best player in the country,” Moncada said.

The emotions flew in the clubhouse during this Dodgers series. Pregame Tuesday consisted of the media zooming in on how Todd Frazier handled trade rumours, and just 24-hours later, three vacant lockers that belonged to former teammates were quickly identifiable. All the while, the number one prospect in baseball was suddenly present in his new environment.

“Those are two different moments,” Abreu said of the quick turnover. “From one end we are saying goodbye to good friends, good teammates, people who you play with for two years and people that you care about. But on the other hand we are happy because Moncada was coming up. I was really happy for him and to have him here. But it was a very bittersweet situation.”

The energy around the ballpark was unmistakable, as fans gathered around to get a glimpse of Moncada on the field, shower him with boxes of Twinkies, his favorite snack, and to witness a turning point of the White Sox rebuild began to slowly take shape.

“I think it’s the beginning of what hopefully will be a transition from a lot of the youth we’ve been accumulating in the system,” Renteria said pre-game on Wednesday. “Everybody in the organization felt it was time for him to be a part of the White Sox.”

Despite the box score showing Moncada recording no hits and one walk in his debut, watching Moncada’s three plate appearances showed a strong and very disciplined plate approach.

Moncada’s saw an impressive nine pitches from Dodgers’ starter Kenta Maeda to start his White Sock career, and quickly found himself in an 0-2 count before working a walk, prompting what was likely the most heralded walk baseball has seen in quite a while. “I was excited, I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said of his first trip to the plate at the corner of 35th and Shields. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

Moncada was also down 0-2 in his second plate appearance of the night, working himself to a 2-2 count before grounding out. He quickly got himself into a 2-0 count during his final plate appearance of the evening, one in which he would line out on a ball scorched to centerfield.

“I felt good. I think that I executed my plan,” Moncada said postgame. “I didn’t get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan. I was very comfortable with the strike zone. I was very aware of the strike zone.”

Manager Rick Renteria had high praise for his new second baseman after Wednesday’s rain shortened contest as well. “He looked very comfortable,” Renteria said. “Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

The 9-1 loss may have been dismal for Carlos Rodon and the White Sox, but the South Side came away with true hope for their future on Wednesday evening. The box scores may read that the Dodgers swept the Sox, but the Sox came away with a win this series in their own right. Baseball’s shiny new number one prospect in pinstripes.

All Star Avi

The road to the sustained success has been a long one for White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia and the fact his success in 2017 held water long enough to merit him an invitation to the All-Star Game has been long awaited. For many on-lookers though, it began to feel like a pipe dream. Before this season, Garcia had never seen his batting average any higher than .257 in a White Sox uniform and, despite having as much power potential as he does, had never seen his slugging average reach anything higher that .385 in a full season of work.

“I learned from all my mistakes, and now I’m learning everyday,” Garcia said of his past struggles. “That’s the word: believe. Believe in yourself.”

With a newfound approach at the plate and the knowledge he’s acquired since his debut in 2013, Garcia is slashing a healthy line of .318/.362/.518 and finally able to tap into his potential. It’s likely that Garcia is just now getting started, but what baseball has seen from him was enough to land him his first trip to the Midsummer Classic.

“I am very happy to represent the White Sox in the All-Star game,” Garcia said. “I know I believed in myself, so I knew I would work hard to improve myself and my career,” He continued. “If you believe in yourself and do the work, you have the opportunity like I have now of representing the White Sox in the All-Star Game.”

The work Garcia has put in has paid off, and it’s been on display in full force this season. He’s taken on a rigorous workout routine and even changed his diet.

“First of all, I lost weight,” Garcia said. “I wake up every day at like 5 a.m. to go to the gym and work hard, I go back home in the afternoon and then go to hit like three times per week. All that work is coming together.”

Indeed it is. Next Tuesday, Garcia will be the lone White Sox player to represent the South Side on the American League team. He’ll be alongside his former teammate Chris Sale, Yankees breakout star Aaron Judge, and other surprising players like Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak.

The special announcement didn’t come without his fellow teammates and coaches close by. “I was in the training room when they called us together as a team,” Garcia said of the team meeting called at 11:30am on Sunday. “When they said my name, I was really proud. Really proud. This now gives me even more motivation.”

“I can’t wait for when they hang the All-Star jersey in your locker room,” Garcia said, the sound of pure excitement in his voice. “I can’t wait for that. It’s exciting.”

Garcia has seen his struggles at the plate recently, currently sitting an 1-for-23 stretch, yet that still hasn’t derailed the 26-year-old’s numbers on the season. Garcia has also been day-to-day since suffering a minor knee injury in the White Sox’s series finale against the Yankees on Thursday. “We’re just taking it a little slow,” manager Rick Renteria after the game of Garcia, “He said he felt good.”

So will the Garcia family be in Miami to help him celebrate this very special achievement? “Of course,” Garcia said without hesitation. “I asked Jose [Abreu], he said make sure you bring your family with you because you know, it’s the first time. Hopefully many more to come.”

White Sox Weekly (07-02-2017) Part 2

Connor McKnight hosts part 2 of White Sox Weekly before the White Sox take on the Texas Rangers. We hear from Sox General Manager Rick Hahn, as well as Manager Ricky Renteria’s pre-game comments. Connor opens up the mailbag to get answers to his question; “What one thing has made the biggest impression for you so far this season?” Connor wraps up this week with the farm report.