The White Sox and a shift for Pujols

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The White Sox and a shift for Pujols

Generally, when teams shift their infield for a pull hitter, they do it for a lefty. David Ortiz, Jim Thome, and Adam Dunn have grounded out plenty of times to short right field.

It's much more rare to see a team shift against a right-handed hitter, though. But that's what the White Sox did Tuesday when Albert Pujols came to the plate.

The Sox aren't the first team to shift for Pujols -- Milwaukee did that last year. Dusty Baker's also employed it for a few years now. But what's interesting is how far Adam Dunn played off the first base bag -- that looks like about a 30, maybe 40-foot sprint he'd have to make to get to first, not leaving him with a ton of time to find the bag, even with Pujols' footspeed. But moving Dunn any closer to first base would've opened up a massive hole through which Pujols could poke a single.

Danks ended up walking Pujols in the sequence, although he did try to work inside with his cutterfastball and outside with his changeup. Unfortunately, neither pitch was really there for Danks on his first start of the spring.

But this shift does show the Sox are going to be a team that takes a good look at spray charts (Pujols' chart from 2011 can be found here). Not to say the previous regime didn't, but it would've been somewhat surprising to see Ozzie Guillen, Joey Cora & Co. implement this shift.

Either way, it's nice to see the on-field management be forward-thinking.

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.