Chicago White Sox

Word on the Street: Garcia agrees with Yankees

376234.jpg

Word on the Street: Garcia agrees with Yankees

Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Freddy Garcia reaches agreement with Yankees

Despite recent reports that the White Sox are still considering him, Freddy Garcia had indicated he wanted to move on, going as far to say that, "I would love to stay in Chicago because I like the city and I have friends there, but I don't think I'm going to come back. In any case, I appreciate them for trusting me last year," Garcia said in the interview. "However, a team like New York would be ideal, and would match up with this stage of my career."

Garcia backed that up by officially agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Yankees according to multiple sources with knowledge of the contract. (mlbtraderumors.com)

Tiger's Dubai golf course on hold

Another major project launched during Dubai's economic boom years has been compromised by the country's financial downturn. The Chicago Tribune reports that plans for a Tiger Woods signature golf estate have been shelved.

"It's been put on hold for right now. It's still there," Tiger said after he finished his season debut at Torrey Pines. "We've got six completed holes and a few that were about to be grassed before construction was halted. Everything is on hold."

The estate was planned to include a boutique hotel and sheik-style palaces. (Chicago Tribune)
Eagles interview Bears' assistant Hoke

The Philadelphia Eagles interviewed Bears secondary coach Jon Hoke for their defensive coordinator vacancy. Since Hoke is under contract with the Bears, the Eagles had to request permission to speak with him.

Hoke came to the Bears in 2009 after spending seven seasons with the Houston Texans. (csnphilly.com)

U.S. soccer cancels exhibition game against Egypt

Because of the political turmoil in Cairo, The U.S. national soccer team canceled its Feb. 9 exhibition game against Egypt. The international friendly was planned Dec. 13, but in the last week, street protests aiming for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak have caused disruption in Cairo and Alexandria.

The U.S. State Department has recommended American citizens to avoid travel to Egypt. U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said "due to the current situation all parties agreed it was best to cancel the match. We appreciate the efforts of the Egyptian Football Association and the U.S. State Department as we worked through this situation." (Tribune News Services)

Krause named baseball "Scout of the Year"

The former general manager of the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Krause, oversaw the franchise's six NBA titles. But Sunday night, he earned the Nick Kamzic Award as "Scout of the Year" in baseball at the 65th annual Pitch & Hit Banquet in Rosemont.

Now the Director of International Scouting for the White Sox, Krause began his baseball scouting career with the Cleveland Indians. After stints with the A's and Mariners, Krause joined the White Sox from 1978 through 1984. In the early 90's, Jerry Reinsdorf wanted Krause to run the Bulls. Eighteen years and six Championships later, Krause returned to baseball in 2004, scouting for the Yankees and Mets before coming back to the White Sox in 2010. (Chicago Breaking Sports)

DePaul women's basketball No. 9 in new AP poll

Coming off a huge win over No. 8 West Virginia, the DePaul women's basketball team reached a new milestone when the Associated Press Poll ranked the Blue Demons ranked No. 9.

"Reaching our highest ranking in school history is a definite testament to this team and the character of our young women," DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said after learning of his team's ranking.

Last week DePaul became the first Division I team to reach the 20-win mark. (depaulbluedemons.com)

Barkley, Strahan join Wild rookie dinner in Chicago

Last Sunday, the Minnesota Wild hosted their annual rookie dinner at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse while in town to play the Chicago Blackhawks. Former NBA star Charles Barkley and former NFL star Michael Strahan were dining at the steakhouse and made a guest appearance at the rookie dinner.

Former Blackhawks center John Madden knew Strahan from his time playing in New York, and invited the two to their dining room, where they stayed for two hours.

According to Wild rookie defenseman Jared Spurgeon, "Charles started getting all these crazy ideas in his head" about the rookie hazing that ensued. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Pro Bowl earns best TV ratings in a decade

Sunday night, the NFC's sloppy 55-41 victory over the AFC drew a 7.7 rating and 12 share on Fox, earning the Pro Bowl's highest television rating since 2000. The ratings were up 8 percent from last year.

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers recorded the only sack for the NFC in the game. (Chicago Tribune)

Working relationship: Trust in pitching coach Jose Bautista key to Michael Kopech's dominance

Working relationship: Trust in pitching coach Jose Bautista key to Michael Kopech's dominance

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A strong relationship with pitching coach Jose Bautista allowed Michael Kopech to make a midseason adjustment he thinks is critical to his dominant stretch.

The Double-A Birmingham pitcher said he’s learned a ton about himself during a very good first season with the White Sox. Much of Kopech’s newfound knowledge is related to the direction of his throwing motion and how he needs to be more consistent with it. The suggestion came courtesy of Bautista, who’s in his ninth season as a White Sox coach.

Kopech, who next pitches for the Barons on Friday night, has found the necessary amount of consistency since he and Bautista made the switch in early July. Since then Kopech, 21, has a 0.66 ERA and 54 strikeouts with only seven walks in 41 innings.

“He really trusts Jose’s information,” Birmingham manager Julio Vinas said. “They did some mechanical stuff fixing his direction. He just took off from there once they corrected that direction and make him understand, strike one, how important it really is. He had one good game where he got into the seventh inning and he came out and he says, ‘That’s the longest outing I’ve had.’ And it was like right after he had corrected the direction and he just took off from there. He’s done great. He’s a great kid. He works hard. Fantastic teammate.”

Kopech is pleased with the insight he has gained from Bautista.

“I feel like I’ve learned more about myself this year,” the right-hander said. “Just that I’m more successful as a starter when I’m able to repeatedly stay in one motion.”

Bautista’s fix came on the heels of a six-start run where Kopech posted a 7.46 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. The club used a nine-day window between starts from July 5-13 to work on his direction. Kopech had only one appearance, a scoreless inning in the Futures Game.

“I may be a guy that goes toward the plate and spins off,” Kopech said. “But I can’t be a guy that goes toward the plate and stays toward the plate and the next pitch goes toward the plate and then spins off. I just have to follow in that some pattern no matter what I’m doing. It’s about consistency and I’ve learned my most consistent patterns as a pitcher. That’s put me in a good position.”

Rather, it’s put Kopech in an elite position.

The No. 12 prospect in baseball has perhaps begun to outperform the lofty expectations that have been in place since he arrived last December from Boston in the Chris Sale trade.

Opposing hitters have a .414 OPS against him over the last month. He has completed at least six innings in each of his last six starts and has gone seven frames or more four times.

“He’s going deeper into games,” player development director Chris Getz. “A lot of it has to do with that fastball command and really its staying within his delivery and going after hitters early with that fastball, trusting it, because he’s got good action on the fastball, not just the upper-90s straight fastball. He’s got natural two-seam action to his ball.”

Undoubtedly, throwing more strikes has played a big role in Kopech’s dominance. In his first 16 starts, Kopech threw strikes 61 percent of the time en route to a respectable 4.02 ERA. He’s increased that figure to 67 percent in his last six games.

Ultimately, Kopech credits Bautista for getting him back in the right direction.

“Getting a little bit of success with one mechanical adjustment kind of made the mental adjustments easier,” Kopech said. “It made me feel a little bit more comfortable with myself.

“I stayed in line. I stopped spinning off so much. The solution to that was getting out there and throwing more strikes. One thing became another and after that I started feeling a lot more comfortable with myself.

“A lot of it has to do with Jose and him being in my ear and telling me when I’m coming off and when I’m doing certain things.

“It’s the best I’ve been all year, the most consistent I’ve been all year. I’m feeling pretty good about myself.”

White Sox prospects Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins homer in Double-A debuts

eloy.jpg

White Sox prospects Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins homer in Double-A debuts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Eloy Jimenez’s goal is to show the White Sox that his performance at Winston-Salem wasn’t a fluke.

At this rate the No. 7 prospect in baseball won’t need long to prove it.

The White Sox prospect celebrated his promotion to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday night with a home run in his first at-bat and a double. Fellow prospect Zack Collins also homered in his first game with the Barons after both were promoted from Advanced-A Winston-Salem earlier in the day.

“It’s a big step for my career again,” Jimenez said. “I’m just focused more to show the White Sox I can do the same I did in Winston-Salem. Just keep working hard. That’s it.”

Both players learned of their impending promotion after Sunday’s game at Winston-Salem. They played in Monday’s 11-inning loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs) with Collins doubling, tripling and walking and Jimenez going 0-for-5. Jimenez had also gone hitless in five at-bats on Sunday.

But the organization’s co-minor league player of the month for July got going immediately on Wednesday. He drove a 1-1 pitch down the right-field line in the first inning and snuck it inside the foul pole for an opposite-field home run, a 368-foot drive. His next time up, Jimenez doubled to deep center after he produced an exit velocity of 109 mph. Collins also drew a walk in his fourth plate appearance.

The White Sox player development department promoted both players to Double-A to prepare them for next season as this is where each is expected to start the 2018 campaign.

“It’s just to get their feet wet and to know what to expect,” Birmingham manager Julio Vinas said. “It’s a great philosophy because now they come into next year and they know already, this is what they do at this level. Even if they don’t do great here in the next couple of weeks, they know what to expect to now. Now they’ve got all offseason where they can work on certain things and come back and be ready for it. I think it’s a great experience that we give them and I really love the way we handle that.”

[MORE: Lucas Giolito feels as good as he has all season]

Collins wasn’t sure if he would be moved up. Originally, the plan was to keep him at Winston-Salem if the Dash was in the playoff hunt. Several losses erased that idea and Collins is appreciative of his new opportunity. The catcher struck out in his first two at-bats before he hammered one 420 feet for a solo home run in the fourth inning. The exit velo on Collins’ homer was 110 mph.

“(The promotion) means a ton to me,” Collins said. “Obviously, that’s the goal to keep on moving up and eventually to the big leagues. Just to get that next step in and get here and get my feet wet a little before the season ends is great.”

After he was acquired from the Cubs on July 13, Jimenez appeared in 29 games for Winston-Salem. He finished the month with 38 hits, including 11 doubles and eight home runs, 26 RBIs and 12 walks.

Jimenez produced a .345/.410/682 slash line for the Dash. He said he tried to avoid thinking about the promotion so he didn’t get distracted.

“Yes, (I was ready), but really, really I don’t think about it because when I think about it I struggle,” Jimenez said. “If God wants to take me here, whenever he feels I’m ready, I’m going to do my best job here. When they told me two days ago, I said ‘Ok. This is the time to keep working hard and just do whatever I’m going to do.’ ”