We previewed SoxFest, which kicks off at 4:00 p.m. with the opening ceremonies on Comcast SportsNet and CSNChicago.com this afternoon. If you're going to SoxFest, Sunday-only passes are sold out. But you can win a weekend pass by liking us on Facebook and clicking on the "Win SoxFest passes" tab on the page!
Also, we'll announce the winner of the autographed 1972 throwback Bill Melton jersey today on Chicago Tribune Live. If you haven't submitted a memory of the 2005 White Sox season to @WhiteSoxTalkCSN (which you have to follow to win), do so now!
Robin Ventura joined Chicago Tribune Live, and discussed his managerial style (sidebar video), the team's 1972 throwback uniforms, his starting rotation and A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers.
Comcast SportsNet will televise five spring training games. For the full radioTVonline stream schedule for spring training, click here.
In non-Sox news, we looked at how Prince Fielder's contract may pan out, and why the Sox should hit balls to third base a whole lot in the next few years.
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.
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.