Chicago White Sox

White Sox Thomas confident in Hall of Fame resume

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White Sox Thomas confident in Hall of Fame resume

White Sox great Frank Thomas is satisfied to be clear of the skepticism some of his competitors face as he prepares for his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Thomas, a two-time MVP who hit 521 career homers, has never faced allegations he used performance-enhancing drugs in a 19-year playing career. When he considers the era he played in, and the scrutiny that now faces Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, Thomas has no doubt he handled it properly and has no sympathy for those who didnt.

Watching all the nonsense unfold and not really knowing what was going on, it makes me feel much more proud of my career, Thomas said. I competed in that era and I played at a high level in that era. There were a lot of great players, but as it unfolds, a lot of it was not the real deal. I know 100 percent mine was the real deal. I wouldnt say I feel bad for them. I respected them on the field, but they chose this. They made their own decisions off the field and they have to live with it.

A baseball player born in a football players body, Thomas never faced suspicion of PED use because he was big from the moment he hit the field. Thomas not only used his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame to gain an edge but he also worked tirelessly, said former teammate Jermaine Dye.

Dye believes Thomas is worthy of first-ballot entry into Cooperstown.

No doubt in my mind, Dye said. He never cheated the game. He always used to tell me Lets get in the batting cage. Lets go work. Get better every day. No matter if you went 4-for-4 with two homers the night before or had a bad game, he was always about getting his work in, staying in the gym and because of that he got to where he is now.

Thomas resume is quite impressive. Not only did he win two MVPs, Thomas was a five-time All-Star in a league loaded with talented first baseman. He also hit a franchise-record 448 home runs in 16 seasons on the South Side and though he was limited by injury, Thomas also helped produce the teams first World Series title when the White Sox swept the Houston Astros in 2005. After noting how five years has flown by, Thomas said he believes he, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all first-timers on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, have resumes that should immediately gain entrance into baseballs shrine. He agrees hes not sure it will happen after Craig Biggio didnt gain entry on his first try -- he was one guy we were all shocked -- but would disappointed nonetheless.

I spent my whole career working my butt off and hopefully I get what I deserve, Thomas said. Of course I would be disappointed. Im not going to lie to you. Of course I will. Like I said, I think my resume speaks for itself. Losing a third MVP to a guy who admitted he was PED, I think that would have put me at another level that only a couple of guys have enjoyed ever in this game. The 12-year-run I had was incredible, very historical. So, I think Ive done enough to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

As for those under suspicion, Thomas isnt sure what he would do. Hes just happy he didnt choose to go the same route.

Its really not up to me, Thomas said. These guys did put up some incredible numbers, but they are fake. Any time you look at the PED situation and Lance Armstrong, you look at stuff like that and its serious out there. I just thank God. Im blessed I did it the right way and have a good family base that made me outwork everyone else because thats the only way I made it to the big leagues.

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

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USA TODAY

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

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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?