Chicago White Sox

New Sox coaches bring grinder mentality

575808.jpg

New Sox coaches bring grinder mentality

When it comes to baseball supremacy, the names Mark Parent, Joe McEwing, and Jeff Manto probably don't come to mind. Together, the trio combined to hit 109 homers with 423 RBIs in their major league careers. By comparison, their new skipper, Robin Ventura, easily surpassed those numbers on his own with 294 homers and 1,182 RBIs.

But what the new three coaches lacked in playing ability, they made up for with heart, guts and determination.

Want the White Sox to become grinders again? This trio made careers out of it.

"The way you look at the staff put together, especially the new guys coming in, we're all basically the same kind of player -- grinders, not silver spoon-type of players," said Manto, the Sox new hitting coach who spent the last four seasons as the team's minor-league hitting coordinator. "We had to work for everything we got. Some of us got more than the other, some of us got less than the other. We'll bring that to the guys. That's all we know."

Adding three coaches sharing the same lunch pail DNA was not the plan. It just turned out that way.

"It a nice thing to have in there," said Ventura. "With all these guys they can see things differently. They're workers for one, and that's a very important part of a team, to be able to come in and do the work, and be excited to do the work. That's what makes it fun. I think players feel that and understand that."

Ventura played two seasons with McEwing with the Mets in 2000 and 2001. He'll be the new White Sox third base coach.

The first time Robin ever spoke to Parent it was by phone in 1997 after Ventura broke both his leg and ankle sliding into home during a spring training game in Sarasota. Parent was inspired to reach out to him after he experienced a similiar situation tearing an ACL during an intrasquad game with the Rangers in 1991.

"I blew my knee out in Texas and I got a phone call from Jack Clark who was on another team at the time," said Parent, who will be Ventura's bench coach. "It meant a lot to me. So I remember watching Robin (on TV) and he got hurt. I made a phone call to him and told him what I went through, and that he was going to be back."

Adam Dunn will probably like to hear the same advice. After averaging 38 homers and 95 RBIs in a 10-year career, Dunn saw his numbers plummet in his first season with the White Sox, ending up with 11 homers, 42 RBIs, and a .159 batting average which almost qualified as the lowest in modern baseball history.

What can Manto do to turn Dunn's career around?

"Listen to what he has to say," Manto said. "That's all my approach is going to be. What does he have to say? Where does he want to be right now? I'm sure in the past he's had a lot of advice."

Manto will soon be contacting his new Sox hitters, some of whom he worked with in the minor leagues. In his words, he doesn't have any "magic dust" for the guys who struggled last season. Wish he did. But from afar, he sees an offense that has the potential to get back on the highway, even Dunn who drove into a ditch in April, and couldn't find his way out for the rest of the season.

"I don't think he lost anything to be quite honest with you," Manto said. "It's just one of those years that happened. Watching from afar, I don't know exactly what happened, but as we walk into it, the past is the past. That's the beautiful thing about getting this new staff together. We want to move forward."

Move forward.

Sounds like a good slogan for 2012. For everyone.

And don't look back.

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Just how valuable is Jose Abreu to the White Sox?

Well, whenever you join Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only baseball players ever to do something, you must be pretty darn valuable.

Abreu joined that elite company Saturday night, driving in both runs in the White Sox forgettable 8-2 loss to the visiting Kansas City Royals. Those RBIs brought his total to 100 on the season, making him the third major leaguer ever to hit at least 25 homers and drive in at least 100 runs in his first four seasons.

“Every year after a season I meet with my family and we review my season and my stats. Last year when we had the meeting, I told them next year I’m gonna hit 30 homers, I’m gonna drive in at least 100 and I did it,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I was able to do it and that’s something that made me feel proud of myself and proud of my family, too, because they have been the ones who have been supported me through my whole career."

Abreu’s known as an extremely hard worker, a template to follow for many if not all of the youngsters coming up as the future stars of the White Sox rebuild. And so it makes this moment all the sweeter for him and those around him.

“It is especially important not just for me but for my family and my team,” Abreu said. “I think that this is a reward for the effort and all the work you put in for preparation for your season. It’s special when you get this kind of result and consistency in your stats. But the most important thing is it’s a reward for my family. And this organization, maybe we are not in the position we want to be right now as a team, but I know that better times are to come.”

“He works extremely hard,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think everybody was feeling it for him tonight. He’s been pushing. He fouled a ball off of his left shin the other day, and you see him kind of gimping around there. … He’s not one to do anything to deter from continuing to help the team win first and foremost, but along the way he’s able to collect some individual merit points, so to speak. And put himself in a very special class.”

The big question surrounding Abreu isn’t whether he’s worthy of being the leader the young White Sox of the future need to turn rebuilding mode into contending mode a few years down the line. The question is whether he’ll still be around by then. His final year of arbitration is 2019, meaning if the White Sox are looking at 2020 as the year of true contention, it will take a new contract to keep Abreu in town.

A few things factor into that, of course. No. 1, Abreu could continue this consistently terrific pace and be lured away by another team willing to spend more to acquire his services. No. 2, though, is his age. He’ll be 33 years old when the 2020 season starts, and while that’s not old by most standards, it means he’ll demand a big contract — and likely a lengthy one — as he reaches the latter part of his prime. It’s not to suggest Abreu will dramatically slow down in terms of production, but it will most definitely be under consideration as the White Sox look to keep their window of contention open as long as possible.

For what it’s worth, Abreu is constantly thanking the White Sox organization for the opportunity to do what he’s done over the past four seasons, and he’s said how much he wants to keep playing for this franchise.

What is of no question, however, is Abreu’s worth as a top-of-the-line offensive player. His totals with a week’s worth of games left in the 2017 season: 31 homers, 100 RBIs and a .305/.356/.551 slash line. All those percentages would be his highest since his outstanding rookie season in 2014.

And his worth as a leader, as a guy who could be a rallying point for all these young players, that’s pretty darn valuable, too.

“I haven’t (tonight) made light of what I believe he’s becoming as part of this organization and what he is as far as what he does for the team,” Renteria said. “You got a couple of young men in there that are growing up and becoming a part of what I believe are leaders within that clubhouse. And he’s one of them. He’s certainly deserves it. He’s earned it. He’s worked for it. He’s been in this organization since the inception of his major league career. He’s someone that we all are happy is a part of us.”

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

9-23_carlos_rodon_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

It’s been more than two weeks since Carlos Rodon was shut down for the season, one day after he was scratched from a start with shoulder inflammation.

And while we know Rodon won’t pitch again in 2017 — a season with just a little more than a week remaining for the rebuilding White Sox — the team still doesn’t know, or still isn’t ready to say, exactly what’s wrong with the former first-round draft pick.

“We’re just trying to get it right,” Rodon said before Saturday night’s game against the visiting Kansas City Royals. “Still trying to figure everything out and take everything we can and put it all together to get the most information and do what’s best for me and for this team.”

That kind of non-update might raise some red flags in the minds of White Sox fans, curious as to what is the latest ailment for a pitcher who missed three months this season while recovering from biceps bursitis.

Rodon was slated to get reevaluated shortly after that early September injury. He was, but no news came of it, at least not yet.

“Pretty similar to what our doc said,” Rodon said of that follow-up evaluation. “Like I said, we’re trying to still gather all the information and figure out what we’re going to do from there.”

Rodon ended his third season in the bigs with a 4.15 ERA in 69.1 innings of work. And while the White Sox still believe he’ll be a huge part of their starting staff moving forward, it’s plenty acceptable to wonder what kind of effects this season of injuries will have on Rodon as the franchise’s rebuild chugs along.

“He continues to be a big part of what we believe is the future of the organization,” manager Rick Renteria said after explaining several times that the team is still trying to figure out what’s wrong with Rodon. “Unfortunately, this year he's been down quite a bit. So assuming he comes back in a good situation and is healthy and is capable of going out and performing, he fits into one of the five guys that are going to be out there for us next season.”

For his part, Rodon is 100-percent confident he’ll be good to go for next year’s campaign.

“I just know that I’ll be ready for next season,” Rodon said. “The goal is to be ready for next year and be healthy through all of next season.”

That, though, will be the million-dollar question as the White Sox starting rotation of the future begins to take shape. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already penciled in for 2018, and Michael Kopech’s 2017 campaign in the minors was so sensational, he could potentially pitch himself into that starting five, too. With younger names like Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning also doing work in the minors, someone’s going to be the odd man out.

Rodon still has the confidence of his organization. But will he have the health to make that confidence pay off?