Frank Thomas on Braun: Those tests dont lie

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Frank Thomas on Braun: Those tests dont lie

With the latest report that Ryan Brauns positive test for a banned substance was caused by medication hes taking for a private medical issue, it would seem like there might be a ray of hope that the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder is true to his word that he has never taken a performance-enhancing drug.However, one person still has his doubts.Frank Thomas.The bottom line is those tests dont lie. He tested positive for something, Thomas said in an interview Monday with Comcast SportsNet. If its something medical, its got to be something weve never heard of to spike the testosterone to that type of level.When Braun was tested during the playoffs, his testosterone levels were insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken, a source told the New York Daily News.When it comes to drug testing, Thomas is a unique authority on the matter. The former White Sox slugger who hit 521 home runs in his 19-year career was a vocal advocate for testing during his playing days, especially at the height of the steroid era when he noticed smaller, lesser players suddenly explode -- both physically and numerically as their home run totals spiked to record heights.
It probably cost Thomas the 2000 American League MVP, an award he narrowly lost to Jason Giambi, who later admitted to taking steroids. Its a sensitive subject for Thomas, and now that Braun, who just won the 2011 National League MVP, has a PED-cloud hanging over him, Frank is not afraid to be frank in discussing the ramifications.Its messy. Its messy because he won the National League Most Valuable Player, and if the test results were made public a month before, he would have not won the National League MVP. So it becomes a messy situation, Thomas said. "Right now I know with a majority of voters, he probably wouldn't have won that MVP if they had known that information that he had flunked the drug test."Braun is facing a 50-game suspension. He is currently appealing the ruling through an arbitrator, but as far as anyone knows, out of a reported 13 attempts, no player has ever won an appeal following a positive drug test.At this point, I want to wait to hear what the problem is, Thomas said of Braun. As you know, I lost an MVP to Jason Giambi back in 2000, but I told people I lost a vote. I felt I was an MVP that year. I had better numbers, I led a team that year that was expected to finish last in the division (the Sox finished first). So some things you cant get back, and this year Braun beat out a fine centerfielder Matt Kemp in LA who almost had a triple crown year, so this is going to be a messy situation one way or another.Thomas commends the leagues current drug policy and the harsher penalties being handed out.These 50-game suspensions are some serious suspensions, he said.However, does that mean that everyone is clean?Thomas says no.I think where theres smoke, theres fire, Thomas said. Theres a lot of chemists out there that say they can beat the tests. When you throw this type of money around, and guys are making 20-25 million a year there are going to be some guys that will really take that chance because its a life-changing moment when you get a check for 25 million, so some guys will take that risk.Did Braun?We dont know the answer.But we know this: Thomas has questions.For more of Thomas' comments, tune in to Chicago Baseball Hot Stove Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields vs. Jerad Eickhoff

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White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

Carlos Rodon has once again found the kind of groove that makes the White Sox hopeful about the direction in which he’s trending.

The left-hander continued a strong August on Tuesday night with his best start of the season.

The 2014 first-rounder pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 in front of 18,843 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodon — who has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this month — won for the second time in four starts and Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau homered as the White Sox were victorious a third straight time.

“If (Rodon) keeps running like that, he’s going to be a superstar,” said rookie catcher Omar Narvaez.

Rodon’s second season has begun to shape up much like his rookie campaign.

He pitched better through his first 14 starts of 2016 than he did a year ago, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those turns. But Rodon didn’t have much to show for it as he surrendered leads or pitched with a razor thin margin of error because of lackluster run support.

Same as last season, Rodon has turned it on in August. Over his final eight starts in 2015, Rodon went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA.

With some help from Narvaez and an overpowering fastball, Rodon looked strong throughout a 109-pitch effort.

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He worked around a first-inning jam and took off.  Rodon struck out Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp after he allowed a pair of one-out singles, which began a stretch where he retired 14 of 15 batters. Rodon also worked around a leadoff double in the sixth inning as he lowered his ERA to 4.02.

One key to the effort was finding a different way to make his slider more effective. Narvaez said he and Rodon began to use it as a backdoor slider after he struggled early with command and hitters laid off it.

“The slider wasn’t working too good down and in, they’d take it, so Omar set up a tad outside and just brought it back in,” Rodon said. “It was nice. It was huge. Had something to gauge off of to get that slider off the outside corner and it worked out well.

“Just comfortable, got on a roll and everything worked out.”

Rodon allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He has struck out 20 and walked only six batters in his last 24 2/3 innings.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Rodon’s effort has been in large part to improved power pitching. Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“He’s made some strides from where he was before,” Ventura said. “He was trying to pick. When he’s like that he’s not that guy. Everything he does has effort, and its strength. When he has it going on it looks really good. He doesn’t need to get away from his strength and physicality is one of them. When he picks around and throws soft stuff he’s not as effective.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: First-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League]

Rodon’s offense rewarded him handsomely.

Adam Eaton tripled and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI groundout in the first inning. Anderson then tripled in Eaton in the third to make it a 2-0 game. Abreu, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth, singled in a run in the third and Todd Frazier had a sac fly to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

Morneau’s solo shot in the fifth followed Abreu’s two-run homer off Jake Thompson to put the White Sox ahead 7-0. Carlos Sanchez also had an RBI single and Melky Cabrera had an RBI double.

Rodon was victorious for only the fourth time in 12 decisions this season. Prior to the start of the second half, Rodon said he needed to throw out his rough first half and start over.

The way he has pitched of late has him confident in himself once again. The next step is putting it together from the start of the season, he said.

“When you’re in a zone you just try to stay in it, to be honest,” Rodon said. “Hopefully in the future you have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half.

“It’s all a process, what Coop says. It’s building up to it and trying to get like Q and Sale. Those guys are very good, top of the line starters, left-handers in the game, probably the very best. I’d love to be like that.”

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

Zack Collins’ first pro season just got a little longer.

The White Sox’ first-round pick will head to Arizona in October to participate in instructional camp and in the Fall League, player development director Nick Capra said Tuesday.

Taken with the 10th pick in the June draft, Collins has a .794 OPS in 110 plate appearances at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though the plan calls for him to be a catcher, the White Sox have limited how much playing time Collins has had behind the plate this season. Of his 29 professional starts, 11 have come as a designated hitter.

“He’s had a long season,” Capra said. “He caught almost every day in Miami. He looks like he’s beat up a little bit, but he’s been fine. We are kind of taking care of him a little bit. He’s not catching every day. He’s DHing sometime. He looks good.”

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Collins appeared in 62 games for the Miami Hurricanes this season. He received the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

The 21-year-old has nine extra-base hits at Winston-Salem this season, including four homers. He has walked 17 times and struck out 30. Collins would only make a brief appearance for instructs before AFL play.

“Looks good,” Capra said. “Catching well. He’s swinging the bat well.

“We just want to get him out there and see him play.

“He looks like he can swing the bat. We are happy with his progress.”