Chicago White Sox

Tim Anderson will honor slain friend during Players Weekend

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson will honor slain friend during Players Weekend

Some guys chose their hometown.

Other players went with watered down nicknames playing off their real names.

When Tim Anderson chose his nickname for Players Weekend, he opted to honor deceased friend, Branden Moss. The White Sox shortstop couldn’t think of a more fitting acknowledgement for his close friend, who was shot and killed on May 7 near the University of Alabama campus. Players across the majors will wear jerseys with their chosen nicknames across the back on the weekend of Aug. 25-27.

“When I first heard about it, it’s the first thing that came to my head,” Anderson said. “Just thought I definitely want to pay tribute to him. He definitely motivates me and someone I played the game for.”

White Sox players chose a variety of options for their nicknames. Catcher Kevan Smith preferred to use “Ripper” but said Major League Baseball suggested he might get flack for its proximity to serial killer Jack The Ripper. Smith settled on “Szmydth” instead, which was his family’s surname before his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Poland.

Rookie pitcher Aaron Bummer isn’t sure what his nickname would be but said his last name often is used anyway, that or “Bum.”

Alen Hanson went with “El Chamaquito,” which translated to “The Kid.” Gregory Infante said he’s always been called “El Meteorico,” or “The Meteor.” Leury Garcia only recently picked up “El Molleto,” or “The Muscle,” after Michael Ynoa began to call him that.

Yolmer Sanchez said he has too many nicknames and decided to go with his hometown, El Del Penonal. Jose Abreu also opted for his home, Mal Tiempo as did Miguel Gonzalez (El Jaliscience).

Adam Engel put his daughter Clarke’s name on the back of his while Chris Beck went with the nickname his younger siblings gave him, “Bubba.”

Though he could have gone with something as simple as Timmy, Anderson wanted to pay his respect to Moss, whose death has affected him greatly. Anderson and Moss were close enough to be brothers. Anderson said he still talks to Moss’s mother all the time.

“It lets people know how much he meant to me,” Anderson said. “Very special in my life. He just kept me going. He was such a happy person. It’s always good to pay tribute to someone who was so great in your life.”

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Confidence continues to build after Lucas Giolito's latest strong start

Nothing is proven, Lucas Giolito will have to come back next season and show he can do this once again. But another huge development in the White Sox rebuild has been the continued development and success of Giolito late in the season.

The young White Sox pitcher added another outstanding performance to the ledger on Sunday afternoon.

Giolito pitched seven sharp innings and helped the White Sox officially avoid 100 losses in an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. He allowed a run and five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It’s another step in a nice turnaround for Giolito, who struggled at Triple-A earlier in the year.

“I feel like this is where I can pitch,” Giolito said. “I can pitch deep into games. I wouldn't really say awestruck or anything like that. I’d say that there’s a lot of struggles there earlier this year. I worked through those … I feel like getting the confidence back up, it’s all I really needed to feel comfortable and be ready to go.”

Some of the metrics would suggest Giolito is in line for a dropoff. While his earned-run average is 2.38, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.94. His xFIP is a little lower at 4.42. But the elevated numbers are in part due to Giolito not missing as many bats and striking out 6.75 batters per nine innings.

But Giolito’s big-league numbers also come at a time in which he has never pitched more. He has pitched a combined 174 innings this season, which dwarfs his previous high of 136 2/3 innings in 2016.

Despite the workload, the right-hander continues to bring good stuff. He got seven swings and misses and 10 called strikes with his four-seam fastball, which averaged 92.3 mph, according to Baseball Savant.

“He's got angle, he's got height,” manager Rick Renteria said “He's got good angle so that creates, believe or not, some deception and he can ride it up out of the zone. And then he comes out from that angle with the breaking ball or his changeup. So the angle creates some pretty good deception.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Conditioned for success: Avisail Garcia vows to work even harder in offseason after breakout campaign]

Giolito has filled up the strikezone since he reached the majors partly because of belief in his stuff. He’s thrown strikes on 63.4 percent of his pitches and was even better Sunday with 65 of 98 offerings. The other part of it is trust in his defense, which made several spectacular plays behind him.

Giolito knows this is only the beginning. But he feels good after a stretch in which he has quality starts in five of six games. Over the stretch he has a 1.83 ERA and 25 hits allowed with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

“My confidence is there,” Giolito said. “I trust my stuff, I trust my pitches. There are things to work on, things I’m talking to (Don Cooper) about. There’s always stuff to improve, for sure. I’d say that just the confidence and everything is right where it needs to be so I’m going to continue to try and pitch like I am.”

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

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.”