Sox offense picks up slack in Konerko's absence

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Sox offense picks up slack in Konerko's absence

CHICAGO -- With the first round of the BP Crosstown Cup taking place at Wrigley Field, Dayan Viciedo didn't figure to see much time on the field.

The White Sox were losing the option of the designated hitter, and manager Robin Ventura had already said Adam Dunn was going to see time in left, with Paul Konerko staying at first base.

Viciedo got his chance Friday when Konerko had to leave the game after taking an 85 mph splitter from Jeff Samardzija to the left eye.

The 23-year-old outfielder stroked a one-out single to center in the first inning Saturday to put the White Sox on top early. He followed that up with a two-run homer in the third inning that just snuck into the basket in left center.

"We got Dayan swinging it pretty good," Ventura said. "He had some big hits to get us on the board and let starter John Danks relax a little bit."

"That's always huge," Danks said. "We'll take all the runs we can get, especially early. That allows us to relax and stay aggressive."

In the four games prior to Friday, Viciedo totaled eight hits -- including three homers -- and seven RBI.

"Viciedo was swinging it good before," Ventura said. "It'd be nice to have Paul in there, too. But you get Viciedo swinging the bat the way he is, it's nice to have him to be able to fill in for Paulie."

After the White Sox 7-4 win over the Cubs Saturday, Ventura said he didn't think Konerko would be able to suit up and go Sunday afternoon in the series finale.

Jake Peavy -- Sunday's starting pitcher -- said prior to Saturday's game that the Sox needed other guys to step up in Konerko's place.

The heart of the order (Dunn, Viciedo, A.J. Pierzynski) did just that, scoring and driving in five runs. Each guy also had a home run.

Dunn was especially hot, walking four times in addition to his solo blast in the eighth.

"I see the ball pretty good here," he said about Wrigley Field "The environment makes it a pretty good place to play in."

Pierzynski echoed his teammate's thoughts.

"The fans here are always great," the White Sox backstop said. "They're always fun. It's always packed. Fans are always yelling and screaming, cheering and booing. The ballpark is just fun.

"You can't really explain it. It's just a fun place to play. I always enjoy these three games and then the three games at our place."

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.