Chicago White Sox

Oh, brother: Nicky Delmonico makes another Fenway Park memory with oldest sibling

Oh, brother: Nicky Delmonico makes another Fenway Park memory with oldest sibling

BOSTON — Nicky Delmonico’s brother might not have been on hand for his first career homer on Thursday night had he not looked at the upcoming schedule.

Much like most of the family, Joey Delmonico had spent the previous two days in Chicago to watch his younger brother make his major league debut with the White Sox on Tuesday night. He’d made the trip from Florida to see the first two games and share in the excitement, including watching Nicky Delmonico’s first big league hit. But once they noticed where the White Sox were headed, Joey and his wife, Monica, knew they had to come to Fenway Park.

One of baseball’s most storied venues also happens to be the site of the last game the two siblings attended as fans back in 2003. On Thursday, Nicky made Fenway Park even more memorable to the pair when he blasted the first home run of his career in a 9-5 White Sox loss to the Boston Red Sox.

“We were Red Sox fans and we wanted to see the Green Monster,” Joey Delmonico said. “That was the last game me and Nicky went to because we’ve been traveling and went to college. All of us have our summer schedules.

“When we were in Chicago, I looked at the schedule and was like, they’re going to Fenway.

“The fact that Nicky was able to play the Green Monster and play left field, it was so surreal. And after that home run, talk about emotions going wild. We couldn’t even contain it. You can’t write this stuff.”

Nicky Delmonico barely remembers the moment it went by so quickly. Having singled in his first at-bat against Rick Porcello, Delmonico felt a little more comfort when he stepped to the plate in the third inning with the White Sox trailing 7-2. With two on and two outs, Porcello left a first-pitch curveball up and Delmonico hammered it — the exit velo was 105.5 mph — 380 feet for a three-run homer to deep right.

“I made solid contact with it, and I don’t know, I went too fast around the bases,” Nicky Delmonico said. “It didn’t really register that I did it. But it was awesome. It was a great feeling.”

So, too, was calling his brother to let him know about the promotion late Monday night.

Joey Delmonico said he received the call at 11:37 p.m. EST and they immediately began to plan the trip. More than two hours later, he had to remind Nicky to try and rest.

Given all his brother has overcome to reach this point, Joey Delmonico, who played collegiately at Georgia, didn’t want to miss a moment. He and Monica knew they had to extend their trip for a few more days. The homer only made it that much more special.

Nicky Delmonico said he was able to get the ball back and intends to autograph it and give it to his oldest brother.

“If you’d have seen me midgame you would have seen me, with emotions man, we couldn’t contain it,” Joey Delmonico said. “We were in the stands. That’s my best friend, my little baby brother. I love that kid more than anything. This is so surreal. Everything is like, ‘Wake me up, this is a dream.’ And the first home run at Fenway? Come on.

“When we found out Fenway was coming up we had to come here.”

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

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USA TODAY

Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign

When searching for why Avisail Garcia has had sustained success this season, you can’t overlook his fitter frame.

The White Sox outfielder entered a breakout 2017 season approximately 18 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. Garcia, who’s hitting .331, doubled, homered and drove in three runs as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 8-1 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon. Given the way he has performed this season, the first-time All-Star said he plans to work even harder this offseason.

“One hundred percent (better),” Garcia said. “I want to keep losing a little bit more. I want to feel way better next year.”

Garcia has provided the White Sox with a boatload of feel-good moments this season. He cut down two base runners in Friday night’s wild victory over the Royals, including on the final play of the game. Overall, Garcia has felt a difference in the field and it’s shown up in his defensive numbers. He headed into Sunday worth 2 Defensive Runs Saved after he finished the 2015 season at minus-11.

But even more of Garcia’s production has come at the plate, where he reached the 80-RBI mark on Sunday. He followed a one-out Yoan Moncada double off Ian Kennedy in the first inning with an opposite-field blast to right field, Garcia’s 18th homer.

Six innings later, Garcia doubled in a run. He’s hitting .331/.379/.504 on the season and entered Sunday worth 3.5 f-Wins Above Replacement.

“It seems likes he’s always finding barrel and like, man, that’s impressive to go up there, have disciplined at-bats and consistently get the barrel of the bat to the ball,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said.

Garcia’s play has offered him more encouragement to continue his efforts. Though he was adamant at the All-Star Game he wanted to duplicate his first-half efforts, Garcia suffered a series of injuries that bothered him throughout July. But he’s found comfort at the plate once again and knows how important a role his improved conditioning has played.

“The offseason, I have to do the same even harder,” Garcia said. “I want to do my best every year so now I have the ability to be here and trying to help my team. Just have to keep working.”

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.”