Thome's watching White Sox, good friend Konerko

212846.jpg

Thome's watching White Sox, good friend Konerko

Thursday, July 15, 2010
7:42 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS Jim Thome was always crystal clear with how thrilled he was to play in Chicago, and seems to prize his three-plus seasons slugging for the White Sox higher than any others. Between his hometown ties and the fact that his former team has soared past his Minnesota Twins in the standings, Thome has been keeping an eye on the Pale Hose.

Thome got in a few words in between Twins batting practice, his daily back maintenance routine and a team meeting before Thursdays game. The DH, hitting .255 with 10 homers and 29 RBI for third-place Minnesota, admitted being impressed with his former team.

Wow, its hard to put together a streak like that a better than .800 stretch for a week or maybe two, not a month or more, Thome said. Its a good group there, and with pitching like theyve been getting, Im not surprised at all theyre playing so well.

Thome took particular interest watching his old White Sox running mate, Paul Konerko, in Tuesdays All-Star Game, even though Konerkos appearance came at the expense of new teammate Justin Morneau-who missed the All-Star Game, as well as tonights series opener, with a concussion.

Paul is so deserving, Thome said through a smile, reminded that Konerko, with four Midsummer Classics in the books, now trails him by just one All-Star appearance. You couldnt have a better teammate or a better friend in this game. I couldnt be happier for him.

Of course, Thome is no doorknob, either. The 39-year-old has slugged his way past Rafael Palmeiro and Twins hero Harmon Killebrew this season, jumping to No. 10 on the all-time list with Mark McGwire clearly in his sights in the second half.

Its the same thing Id say in Chicago, or even before that, Thome said. You see some of the names youre alongside, above or below you, and its just mind-boggling. Ive been so incredibly fortunate in this game.

When asked to take it easy on his former mates tonightThome hit homers vs. the Indians at a slightly higher clip than his career vs. all other teams in spite of slugging in his prime years for ClevelandMr. Incredible just shrugged and grinned.

In other words, brace yourselves, Sox fans.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

stl-podcast-1208.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score) and David Schuster (670 The Score) joined David Kaplan on the SportsTalk Live panel for Thursday's show.

Baseball’s winter meetings are over. Could Rick Hahn have done more this week? Plus which closer will have a better season- current Cubs closer Wade Davis or former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman?

How much upheaval will there be on the Bears’ coaching staff this offseason? Plus are the Bulls in slump or are we finally seeing the real team show up?

Listen to this episode of the SportsTalk Live podcast here: