Ron Kittle, 1983 American League Rookie of the Year for the Chicago White Sox, describes receiving a 2005 World Series championship ring at dinner over the Soxfest weekend.
Ron Kittle, 1983 American League Rookie of the Year for the Chicago White Sox, describes receiving a 2005 World Series championship ring at dinner over the Soxfest weekend.
Day 3 from Mexico!!! Hear how Brendan’s birthday went! White Sox legend Ron Kittle joins the boys on today’s show in beautiful Riviera Maya, Mexico! As they broadcast their WLS AM 890 radio show each day, we’re bringing the show directly to you! Tune in!
Baseball season might be over on the south side, but you better believe Roger Bassard is still keeping that field in prime condition! Here is this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by Xfinity.
White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters at Guaranteed Rate Field today that left hander Carlos Rodon underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix a “significant case of bursitis” in his left shoulder. The procedure was preformed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal El Attrache and Rodon’s tentative timeline for return is in six to eight months. That timeline, obviously, puts his Opening Day status in question. The diagnoses for Rodon, who started the year on the disabled list with bursitis, is about as good as the White Sox could hope for, Hahn said. Rodon’s biceps and labrum were fine and the injury was limited to the bursitis in his shoulder.
In total, Rodon started 12 games for the White Sox in 2017. His season debut didn’t arrive until June 28th as he rehabbed his ailing shoulder in Arizona to start the year. Although his ERA was 4.15 over the 69.1 innings he threw, Rodon was able to lock things in and give White Sox fans a glimpse of his potential for a stretch of six starts from late July into August. Over those six, Rodon went 40 innings with a 2.93 ERA and struck out 48 hitters while walking only 12.
It’s not the first injury for Rodon. He sprained his wrist in the 2016 season, which interrupted a comeback-type second half, and injuries have kept sightings of that type of performances to just a glimpse.
Rodon will turn 25 before the end of the year and, even at such a young age, could very well be the “elder statesman” in the White Sox rotation. Only James Shields, who has one year left on his deal, is older and Rodon, should he make the full recovery that he and the White Sox hope for, has plenty of potential to keep White Sox fans dreaming about his return all winter.
While Rodon heals, the White Sox rebuild rolls on. There are a number of young, talented arms in the minors (Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, and Dane Dunning to name a few) that could push for starts late in the 2018 campaign. How Rodon fits back in will largely be a question of health.
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.
In this week’s second hour Connor speaks with author Bill Kashatus, whose new book “Dick Allen, the Life and Times of a Baseball Immortal” explores Dick Allen’s career in baseball and asks the question: why isn’t he in the MLB Hall of Fame? Then Connor speaks with future White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech about his time in the majors so far.
In this week’s first hour, Connor interviews White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn in the Sound Lounge on the 6th floor of the NBC tower! Rick answers questions about wild trades this season, all the new faces in the locker room and some of his favorite White Sox stories! Strap in for an hour with the GM!
White Sox legend, Harold Baines, joins us for this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by Xfinity!
As the season winds down for the White Sox, a few of the younger bats have been heating up. Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Yolmer Sanchez have all been on a run in the final weeks of the 2017 season. They’ve been the kind of runs that, coupled with the continued stellar production from Avi Garcia and Jose Abreu, make you wonder about just how quickly the White Sox rebuild can take shape.
Anderson’s first four months were tough, to say the least. What he had to deal with off the field was tragic and well-documented. In August, once he was able to start sleeping and dealing with the death of his best friend—a brother, nearly—Anderson’s performance on the field began to come around.
He’s picked up 30 points in batting average from August 1st to now. In 41 games, he’s slashed .320/.331/.543 and reminded most of his rookie campaign.
As for Moncada, Jose Abreu has helped in ways other than lineup protection. Although Abreu hitting behind Moncada and doing his best impression of a wrecking ball (.337/.380/.639 over the last two months) can’t hurt. Abreu suggested that Moncada use a lighter bat. A new shipment of lumber arrived for the White Sox rookie in time for the four-game series against the Royals on September 11th.
Since, Moncada has hit .448 over six games. He’s hit two homers and a triple. He’s driven in six and registered multi-hit games in four of the six. Quite simply, he’s been the sensation White Sox fans and front office alike were hoping for.
Yolmer Sanchez, who’s often been one of the younger players at whatever level of the minors he’s competed at, has shown enough extra-base pop to open eyes. His plate discipline has improved by quite a stretch as well. Through his first 687 MLB plate appearances, his OBP sat at .261. This season it seems regular playing time has benefited the 25 year-old infielder. His OBP is up a full 40 points (.320) and he’s added 11 home runs for good measure.
White Sox manager Ricky Renteria has been quick to say that while Sanchez may not be the double-digit home run type in the future, he’s a big proponent of what Yolmer adds defensively—especially at third.
Each of these three players are, to differing degrees, important to the rebuild. Moncada may very-well be the face of the transition. Anderson, perhaps, a potential steadying force. Sanchez, a meaningful bonus. Regardless of import, we’ll watch each try and carry hot finishes into the start of the 2018 season.
Former White Sox pitcher, Miguel Gonzalez, answered April’s rapid fire questions on this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by Xfinity!
“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.
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.
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.
Nicky Delmonico has one of the best motivational songs ever! Find out on which one on this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by Xfinity!
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.
Has White Sox pitcher, Aaron Bummer, ever been to a concert in his life?! Find out on this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by #Xfinity!
White Sox center fielder, Adam Engel, takes on rapid fire questions on this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by Xfinity!
The White Sox continued flipping major-league assets with the late night trade of reliever Tyler Clippard to the Astros Sunday night. Clippard, who worked just 10 innings for the White Sox after coming over in a seven-player trade with the Yankees on July 19th, was moved for a player to be named later or cash.
Despite a decent track record of success (2.78 ERA in 527.1 IP from 2010-2016), Clippard’s 2017 started like a nightmare. In 46.1 innings with the Yankees, Clippard logged a 4.27 ERA, the Yankees saw leads evaporate and fans lost patience at a record pace–even for Yankee fans. Still, after coming over to the White Sox, Clippard worked his bread-and-butter change-up back into shape and was reliable enough (10 IP, 2 ER, 10 K, 5 BB).
While the quality of player (or amount of money) the White Sox receive will certainly depend on Clippard’s performance down the stretch for Houston, credit GM Rick Hahn for moving a short-term asset for, well, anything.
It seems likely that Dylan Covey, whose been rehabbing at AAA Charlotte, will come up to take Clippard’s spot. Covey, who started the year as the fifth man in the White Sox rotation, is a Rule 5 pick and needs to be on the 25-man roster or be returned to Oakland at the end of the year.
Eloy Jimenez, the power-laden outfielder who headlined the Jose Quintana trade, was having a wonderful season before being traded to the White Sox. Since the deal, he’s been nothing short of incredible. Over 100 at-bats with the Winston-Salem Dash, Jimenez has slashed .380/.446/.750. He’s hit eight home runs–the same number he’d hit in the 155 at-bats prior to the trade. It’s entirely possible that he’s ready for the test at double-A but the White Sox have said, many times, they’re not interested in rushing prospects through this rebuilding process.
Chicago White Sox catcher, Kevan Smith has a great rendition of the Jurassic Park theme in this edition of 89 Seconds With 890 powered by #Xfinity!
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.
The 2017 trade deadline was the end of the first chapter of the White Sox rebuild. While there may be an addendum or two with potential sign-and-trades in the year or two to come, the means to acquire young talent are, mostly, spent. The next chapter will be spent figuring out which young talent will make it in the MLB. While Yoan Moncada seems destined to have the staring role in that part of the drama, there will be others. The next could be Reynaldo Lopez.
While guest speaking at Boston’s Saber Seminar over the weekend, GM Rick Hahn teased that Friday could be the debut of Lopez. He seems ready. While Lucas Giolito may have more prospect shine and Carson Fulmer has had big league experience with the White Sox, Lopez has been the most consistent starter for the AAA Charlotte Knights this season. That’s not to say Lopez is without flash. Over his last five starts, he’s thrown 30 innings, struck out 38 and held a 2.38 ERA. He was voted as the White Sox Minor League Player of the Month in July and has impressed both teammates and coaches with his cool, collected character.
When Lopez makes his White Sox debut, he’ll be pitching for his second MLB team. Lopez worked 44 innings for the Washington Nationals last season. He started six games and relieved in one while also throwing two innings of relief in Game Four of the NLDS against the Dodgers. 2016 saw Lopez miss a fair amount of bats (42 strikeouts in the regular season) but miss a the strike zone too often, as well (22 walks). Lack of command has been, as it is with so many young pitchers, the developmental issue for Lopez thus far. While nothing is a bigger tell than the GM of a team telling fans to buy tickets for Friday night against the Royals, Lopez’ walk numbers since the start of June do a fair amount of talking. He’s given a free pass to 22 hitters over 11 starts (62 innings). Just for the sake of quick review–Lopez walked 4.5 per nine in his 44 innings with the Nationals last season. In his first two months at AAA this year, he walked 5.65 per nine. Since the start of June, the rate has dropped to 3.19 per nine.
Reynaldo Lopez may well have little left to prove at AAA.
Should the White Sox bring him up for Friday’s start, it’s possible he could get 10 or even 12 starts in the remainder of the season. Last season, he threw 155.1 total innings across three levels (AA, AAA and MLB). He’s logged 121 innings so far this season so, when Hahn announces the move, it’s fair to wonder wether an innings cap will be thrown on top of Lopez’ new White Sox lid; the team a has preached patience with their new horde of top-tier talent.
Another question asked will be about how the rest of the rotation will change. With Mike Pelfrey, Derek Holland and James Shields all struggling to get out of the fifth innings on a regular basis, one wonders whether simply adding a sixth man (Lopez) into the rotation might just be easiest on everyone. It’d space out long relief work for a beleaguered bullpen and help Lopez ease into his first go in the Sox rotation.
Either way, listen to Rick Hahn. Maybe buy tickets for Friday night.