Tag Archives: Rick Renteria

Upates from Glendale: Burger undergoes surgery, Giolito and Jimenez start hot

By Cat Garcia

It’s been anything but dull for the first few weeks of White Sox training camp in Glendale, Arizona. Sox fans have been able to catch a glimpse not only of live action baseball, but of their stars of the future.

With that being said, it certainly hasn’t been a Spring Training for the faint of heart. Multiple injuries have mounted on the field, Miguel Gonzalez struggled in his first outing back in a White Sox uniform, and folks caught a glimpse of the less refined version of their future superstar pitcher Michael Kopech.

From Jake Burger to Nicky Delmonico, let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways from camp so far.

Jake Burger Out For 2018

White Sox first-rounder Jake Burger ruptured his Achilles during a sprint to first base during a game against the Athletics on February 27th. Burger underwent successful surgery on his Achilles on March 1st in Chicago and is expected to miss the entire 2018 season. Despite the shocking turn of events, Burger has a positive outlook on the situation. “I can focus on nutrition, focus on my diet, focus on my body,” Burger told the media in Glendale after the injury occurred. “I actually texted my academic guy back at Missouri State, and I’m going to go back for an intersession course, get three hours in.” Burger said he spoke with newly appointed White Sox ambassador and former starter Jose Contreras, who suffered the same injury in 2008. “He was like, ‘Look, man, it’s a tough recovery, but you’ll get back,’” Burger said of Contreras. “He said he lost 30 pounds while going through it. I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to being back with my family for a couple of weeks.”

Lucas Giolito Impresses

The future is bright for young White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who showed flashes of brilliance in his short debut with the big league club at the end of 2017. But in training camp, Giolito seems to be picking up where he left off. Giolito has started two games and pitched a total of six innings, while accumulating nine strikeouts, and eight of those nine punchouts came on Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs. Giolito walked two on the afternoon and pitched four solid innings. “I was just trying to mix my it up a lot,” Giolito told the media after his outing on Saturday. “I was throwing the slider pretty much for strikes and was throwing the curveball a bit sharper, which is what I have been working on. With two strikes, I was able to get guys out with it. Overall my breaking stuff was working pretty well.” Giolito allowed just one earned run on Saturday, a homer off Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini.

Nicky Delmonico and Tyler Saladino Suffer Outfield Collision

As if the White Sox stockpile of injuries could mount any higher — two most players were added to the heap on Sunday. Outfielder Nicky Delmonico and shortstop Tyler Saladino collided trying to catch a pop-up in the seventh inning, and the collision prompted manager Rick Renteria to remove Saladino from the game and place him on the 7-day concussion list, while Delmonico has suffered a separated shoulder. “Just extended it,” Renteria said of the Delmonico injury. “Didn’t pop it. Didn’t do anything. Just got extended and jammed it a little bit.” With just two weeks until Opening Day, it is possible that for precautionary reasons, Delmonico will open the season on the disabled list. Delmonico was slated to be the White Sox starting left fielder, which now leaves the club ready to test the waters with Ryan Cordell, Leury Garcia and other options to fill that role.

Eloy Jimenez Returns

Not all of camp has been exceptionally gloomy in the way of injuries for the White Sox this spring. After being sidelined for two weeks with left knee tendinitis, the infamous Eloy Jimenez played his first full game of the spring on Sunday against the Diamondbacks. Jimenez first stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter in Saturday’s game, only to hit a go-ahead home run that tied the game 4-4. Sunday, Jimenez continued his success, hitting another home run in his first at-bat off Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin. Jimenez went on to hit a triple on a line drive to centerfield and walked in his final plate appearance of the day. Despite the success, Jimenez has only played a handful of games above Class A and will begin the season in Double A Birmingham, even if the stay there is short before he ventures up to Charlotte. The show will go on for Jimenez, just not with the big league club for right now.

Sox confident Miguel Gonzalez can regain success from 2016

By Cat Garcia

Perhaps we have some answers to the mysterious question that has loomed since mid-May: What happened to the reinvented Miguel Gonzalez the White Sox saw just last season?

Gonzalez started off the 2017 season with a 3.18 ERA in six starts. But that quickly changed, as Gonzalez’s ERA spiked to 7.35 from May 12th to his last start on June 14th. Pretty indicative that something was up.

“I was not finding anything at that point,” Gonzalez said after his outing on Wednesday against the Orioles. “I felt like my four-seam was cutting. The ball wasn’t doing what I wanted to. I felt like my slot was a little lower than usual. It’s something I have to fix and then we’ll be OK.”

Well, there was something up. In correspondence to James Shields’ reinstatement from the DL on Sunday, the White Sox announced that Gonzalez would be moved to the 10-day DL retroactive to June 15th with A/C joint inflammation. According to reports, Gonzalez has been pitching though soreness for “about a month”, which directly correlates with his seasons massive derailment.

If Gonzalez was in fact pitching through soreness as he claims, that would certainly compromise his mechanics leading to the poor command we’ve seen from him this season. Gonzalez has already let up 13 home runs this season. He only allowed 11 during all of 2016. Gonzalez is also striking out just 5.3 batters per nine, down from 6.3 last season. His walk rate has climbed a bit too, going from 2.3 last season to 3.0 in 2017.

“When you’re not right, the ball doesn’t do what you want it to do,” Gonzalez said Sunday after the DL announcement. “You’re changing your slot. You’re not where you need to be and it just makes it that much harder to put the ball where you want it. Command, it’s very important, especially for starters.”

Instead of hitting the panic button and assuming that Gonzalez’s success last season was just a flash in the pan, we now have a legitimate reason to believe that once Gonzalez is able to recover from his shoulder inflammation that perhaps he can regain some of the dominance that the White Sox saw in 2016.

To say Gonzalez surprised the White Sox with his success last season is accurate, though it’s not as if he pulled off a Jake Arrieta-esque season that is likely unrepeatable. The success that Gonzalez saw was built on a strong foundation that the Orioles have struggled to give many of their pitchers (such as Arrieta, who clearly saw a bounty of success upon arrival in Chicago). Gonzalez’s success on the South side didn’t merit him any higher than a solid fourth spot in the rotation, which isn’t much to ask of a 33-year-old starter who has never thrown over 171 innings per season in his career. Perhaps Gonzalez was just able to reach his full potential at this stage of his career in Chicago.

And it wasn’t all perfect, Gonzalez missed time in the second half of the season with a groin strain and has been known to be a bit of a red flag in the injury department. Thankfully, with the exception of this season, the White Sox are good at keeping their pitchers in good health, which is why many veteran starters and reclamation projects see so much success on the South side.

While Gonzalez’s injury may lead some folks to breath a small sigh of relief in the sense that there isn’t another largely underlying mechanical issue blooming, it does now lead to concern that the 33-year-old is dealing with what could become a looming injury that’s leading to some worry for the future. Not to mention that the trade deadline is just over a month away, and Gonzalez may have likely been one of the top pitchers on the White Sox’s trading block.

“It’s more a precautionary tale for us. We anticipate it’s going to be a short-lived situation,” Sox skipper Rick Renteria said before Sunday’s game in Toronto.

So perhaps it is just a small blip on the radar that is responsible for a bigger issue. The White Sox are well aware of how to handle injury prone pitchers, and stay proactive when it comes to injury prevention. Hopefully, this is the route Gonzalez will take. Gonzalez said he received a cortisone shot on Sunday and was able to throw the ball 60-feet pain-free, a good sign for his trajectory.

Left-hander David Holmberg will take the mound on Tuesday against the Twins to replace Gonzalez. According to Renteria, Carlos Rodon will make at least one more rehab start before he potentially makes his season debut. So perhaps everything is being timed perfectly, and not all is as drastic as it may seem on the South side.

Cabrera Redefines The “Rules” Of The Lead-Off Role

By Cat Garcia

The so-called “rules” of the lead-off role in baseball have been vastly fluid over the last few seasons or so — and even just as of the last few days — on both sides of Chicago.

On the North Side, for the first time in his career, Anthony Rizzo led off for the Cubs this week. Rizzo hit two home runs in back-to-back games while leading off.

On the South Side of town, White Sox manager Rick Renteria decided to shakes things up a bit too — batting left fielder Melky Cabrera, a resident of the two spot (or lower), as his lead-off batter for just the fifth time this season.

“We’ve done it this year. We’ve done it maybe four or five times,” Renteria said pre-game about having Cabrera lead off. “Just moving him up in the lineup a little bit let him give us the spark today.”

In his career, Cabrera has batted lead off in 141 games and put up a line of .282/.344/.401 with 10 home runs — one of which came this season. In his time batting at the top of the order, Cabrera has the lowest strikeout percentage of any other spot in the lineup in which he’s hit, sitting at just 10.7 percent, while maintaining his third highest walk rate in the lead off spot at 8.4 percent.

“I think a Ricky Henderson type would be my ideal lead-off guy,” Renteria quipped pre-game. “But there aren’t too many of those guys around.”

Cabrera, who last was in the lead-off spot for the White Sox on May 11th, seemed to take well to the new role. Cabrera went 3-5 with two singles on Thursday against Baltimore, including a two RBI single with the bases loaded.

“His at-bats are obviously very good. I know we’ve talked about it before. Earlier in his career, the lead-off role didn’t show very well for him,” Renteria said. “Over the last three or four years, though, he has lead off and has shown an ability to master that slot in the times that he’s been there.”

Cabrera is batting lead-off for the first time in a White Sox uniform this year… and for the first time since 2014, when he was in Toronto — a season in which he put up a career best average of .338 at the top of the order.

“Wherever the manager slots me in the lineup, I’m going to try to do my job,” Cabrera said post game. “For me it’s just [about having] a good team; it doesn’t matter what position in the lineup I’m in. I am confident and I know that they are counting on me for help and to win games and I’m trying to win games too.”

But despite the fact that Cabrera had a successful game today in the lead-off spot, and has been batting a relatively healthy line there this season, don’t expect to see Cabrera getting too cozy at the top of the order. “This is an occasional thing, this is not a trend for me.” Renteria said.

Cabrera is having success in 2017 — despite that not being reflected in his stat line, which sits at .274/.328/.378 currently. His plate approach is maturing with age. The 32-year old is currently walking in 7.5% of his plate appearances — his best rate since 2010 — while striking out just at just 12.1%. His strikeout rate is currently second best on the team, just behind catcher Omar Narvaez. Cabrera is also swinging at pitches outside the zone at a clip that’s 3 percentage points lower than 2016, while swinging the bat overall just a tad less. Patience is a virtue, and it’s paying off for Cabrera.

Cabrera is not likely to be moved at the trade deadline unless he sees some sort of solid and consistent surge in his offensive profile. His contract is up at the end of the season, and, therefore, he would simply be a “rental” — and would not likely merit a proper return value. For now, Cabrera is best suited just as he wishes — anywhere in the lineup that Renteria slots him.  This gives him a chance to help his team win — something he certainly did in Thursday’s series finale against the Orioles.

Sox Fest ’17 Brings Promise

The landscape has changed quite a bit for the White Sox since the final out of 2016 was recorded. We need not relive the ups and downs of the 2016 season but, clearly, the 2017 White Sox are set out on a much different path than just a year ago. With a new manager in Rick Renteria and a new direction after the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the White Sox have gotten younger, deeper and, hopefully, better in the long run.

For the media, Sox Fest starts with a press conference held by GM Rick Hahn. After the dozens of questions about the future of starter Jose Quintana, third baseman Todd Frazier, left fielder Melky Cabrera, closer David Robertson and anyone else not named Tim Anderson or Carlos Rodon, we’ll get to the business of getting to know the new comers.

Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito or Michael Kopech will be wanted men at Sox Fest 2017–and for good reason. Giolito and Moncada (along with Reynaldo Lopez) are likely to make their White Sox debut at some point in the 2017 season. Moncada could even break camp as the starting second baseman.

There’s a different flavor about the White Sox rebuild. It’s may not have to be the Astros-type where hope is invisible for years. It may not be the Cubs-type where players acquired were, for the most part, years away from MLB-ready. It could be that the track the White Sox are on is very much their own.

Still, the first questions asked to Hahn at the press conference–the ones about how much further the rebuild will go–will likely establish a tone for the rest of the weekend. There will be anxiety about whether prospects become players. There will be sadness in the departure of Sale. The plan, though, is a smarter and deeper system than the organization has had in some time. There is strength in numbers and in acquiring the the talent they have this winter, Sox fans can diversify their hope as they wait for a winner on the Southside.

Get more information about SoxFest 2017 here.

Rick Renteria Named White Sox Manager

With the 2016 season in the books and Robin Ventura stepping down as manager following the final game of the year, the White Sox elevated bench coach Rick Renteria for the 2017 season. Renteria previously managed the Cubs for one season (2014) when the team went 73-89.

Renteria becomes the only Latino manager in MLB and his ability to communicate to a multicultural clubhouse was lauded during the White Sox press conference Monday morning. Further, Renteria has been praised for his ability as a teacher and instructor, particularly with developing talents. Both Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro praised Renteria as a driving force in their development after the 2014 season.

White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters that the White Sox were confident in their selection of Renteria to the point they felt no outside candidate would surpass their feeling on him. Subsequently, there was no outside search.

“There’s always a curiosity but I guess we have a pretty firm idea of who would be in this mix, not just because we sat down the other day and did an internet search of available managers but because over the number of years, we’ve had a living document  of potential candidates” Hahn said about their position on Renteria. “You have the opportunity over the course of time to have certain conversations over the course of the season or during Spring Training and get a better feel for guys and then move them up or down that list. We felt that there was simply not going to be a chance that we were going to come out of an interview with somebody else and feel better about their ability to lead this club, their communication skills, experience, baseball acumen, open-mindedness. Many of the important, the ability to teach. Many of the things we felt were important characteristics.”

Again there are some quality candidates out there,” Hahn continued. “Some of them might have been as good. We didn’t feel any of them would wow us anymore than Ricky had wowed us. At the same time there is a benefit to him already have these relationships with some of these players. He knows what they are about, he knows what buttons to push, he knows what buttons not to push. And the players have a healthy level of respect for him on Day One.”

While Renteria will take over the Sox, it’s still not clear which direction the team will head this winter. While General Manager Rick Hahn told reporters, “We know which way we want to go,” he’s not making that clear publicly for obvious reasons. Mainly, telegraphing their plan to 29 other ball clubs would put them at a clear competitive disadvantage.

There may still be plenty of moves to come for the Sox. Given the lack of quality pitching on the free agent market, the team’s possession of Chris Sale and Jose Quintana gives them a remarkable amount of power at the bargaining table should the decided to rebuild. On the flip side, if the team wants to try and add on to a talented but thin roster, the free agent market doesn’t have many solutions available on the position player side. Trades may have to be made regardless of which direction the organization goes.

We’ll have all the latest on the White Sox here at WLSAM.com and be sure to check out White Sox weekly, Saturday at Noon on WLS AM 890 for our exclusive interview with Rick Renteria.