White Sox tie Astros to close out preseason

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White Sox tie Astros to close out preseason

HOUSTON (AP) Philip Humber and J.A. Happ each had a strong start and a shaky finish Wednesday. Both starting pitchers are looking forward to the regular season, too.J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer and Brian Bogusevic added a solo shot for the Houston Astros, who played the Chicago White Sox to a 5-5 tie on Wednesday in the final exhibition game for both teams.Humber pitched four scoreless innings before Jose Altuve's run-scoring double and Martinez's drive put Houston up 3-2 in the fifth. Humber allowed three runs and five hits with five strikeouts in five innings."Especially early on, I felt like I had my good stuff going and everything was working," he said. "Toward the end, I felt like I was getting a little jumpy and I started rushing my delivery. But overall, I was very pleased with how this spring went."Happ gave up two runs and four hits while walking two in five innings for Houston.Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza hit back-to-back doubles to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fifth."Things were moving and breaking and responding well, and that was a good feeling," Happ said. "It's a good sign, and it feels good to throw strikes and feel good with the pitches."Chicago's Jared Mitchell hit a tying solo homer off Kyle Weiland in the seventh inning. Weiland, who earned a spot in Houston's rotation this spring, allowed a spring-high seven hits with three runs in two innings.Both teams are off Thursday before opening the season Friday. Houston hosts the Colorado Rockies and the White Sox face the Rangers in Arlington.Alexei Ramirez had an RBI triple and Kosuke Fukudome singled in run to help the White Sox take a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning.Houston catcher Jason Castro, who returned this spring after missing the entire 2011 season with a knee injury, had two hits. He is happy with his offensive work this spring, but was more excited about the progress he's made behind the plate."We have a few new guys and I've been working on building those relationships with them," he said of the new pitchers. "That was a big thing for me this spring was getting to know them and getting to know their strengths. I think we've learned each other quickly this spring and it'll only get better as the season gets going."Bogusevic's homer came in the sixth, and Chris Johnson doubled and scored on a wild pitch later in the inning.Houston center fielder Jordan Schafer started for the second straight day after missing more than two weeks with a sprained left hand. Schafer, Houston's leadoff hitter who hit .379 this spring, was replaced by a pinch hitter in the eighth and looks to be on track to start on Friday.NOTES: The Astros finalized their 25-man roster when RHP Henry Sosa cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City and they purchased the contract of OF Travis Buck. ... The Astros are still hopeful that SS Jed Lowrie will be able to start on Friday. He has been out since March 28 with a strained right thumb, but manager Brad Mills said he has been feeling much better the last couple of days.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

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And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.