Players bond over memories of .... childhood pets?

765588.jpg

Players bond over memories of .... childhood pets?

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jeff Fisher took an offbeat approach for breaking the ice when St. Louis Rams veterans and rookies met for the first time. Besides standing and reciting their names, schools, favorite movies, etc., during introductions, the new players were asked to recall the name of their first pet along with how it died. Fisher said several mentioned hamsters and turtles, while some remembered the family dog or cat getting squashed by trains or buses. "We had one whose parents just put him down that morning," Fisher said Wednesday. "You know, it was sad. No, it was good. Good introduction." Cornerback Cortland Finnegan recalled lighthearted goings on when he was a rookie playing for Fisher in Tennessee. There, he got saddled with the nickname Fido. "It's something coach Fisher always throws in there for giggles," Finnegan said. "I played the nickel and I would always run after the wrong guy." Rams rookies got hung with nicknames, too. Finnegan said one looked like Greg Oden, and another resembled Gonzo, the Muppet. There are limits to the frivolity. Players won't be asked to sing and Fisher went out of his way to emphasize there will be no hazing, no rookies taped to goal posts or the like. "They're here to help us win," he said after the team completed a second day of organized team activities. There is fresh optimism surrounding a franchise that's a sorry 15-65 the last five years. Defensive end Chris Long, the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, is playing for his fourth coach entering his fifth season and can't recall a vibe quite like this. "There's been a lot of changes since I've been here. This is by far the one I'm most excited about," Long said. "I think we're all very excited about it. It's a new beginning for a lot of people and, in the same sense, you have to re-prove yourself." Fisher does not seem worried about all those lean seasons in the recent past. "We've completely forgotten about last year," the coach said. "This is a team that's going out there to win, period. There's players that are emerging that were here. There's players that are improving. We've got an influx of talent through free agency and the draft and we're going to play hard and win games." Fisher said much of the base offense and defense have been installed. The Rams worked on situational play and the red zone Wednesday and might delve into the two-minute offense on Friday. A handful of rookies have been unable to attend. Running back Isaiah Pead, a second-round draft pick, was among four who attend schools on the quarter system and can't participate until the end of exams. Plus, Pead and two wide receivers who could get plugged into the offense immediately, second-rounder Brian Quick and fourth-rounder Chris Givens, are attending an NFL rookie premiere event in California. "It's mandated by the league that they come out there, so unfortunately they're missing some quality work," Fisher said. "It's a photo thing, and (trading) cards and those kinds of things. Really great timing." The Rams added a pair of veterans for depth, signing free agent linebacker Mario Haggan and offensive tackle Barry Richardson, and both were on the field Wednesday. Richardson started every game the last two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs and the 32-year-old Haggan also has been strong on special teams.

Is it time for the White Sox to call up Reynaldo Lopez?

lopez-721.jpg
USA TODAY

Is it time for the White Sox to call up Reynaldo Lopez?

With Yoan Moncada now with the White Sox and making an early impact, White Sox fans may be wondering which highly-touted prospect is next to join the big league roster.

Reynaldo Lopez is certainly making a strong case for himself in Triple-A Charlotte. Lopez, one of the pitchers the Sox received from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade, gave up one run in six innings for the Knights on Friday night. That was the latest in a string of five strong starts for the 23-year-old.

In Friday's 2-1 loss against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, Lopez struck out six and allowed just two hits and one walk. That's five straight starts for Lopez in which he has allowed two or fewer runs while pitching six or more innings.

Here's his last five starts:

June 29 vs. Columbus: 6 2/3 innings, 1 run, 11 strikeouts, 1 walk, 6 hits

July 4 at Durham: 6 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 5 hits

July 9 at Louisville: 6 innings, 2 runs, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 7 hits

July 16 vs. Gwinnett: 7 innings, 1 run, 12 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 hist

Tonight at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 6 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 hits

Loepz has a 3.65 ERA on the season with 107 strikeouts in 106 innings against 40 walks and 90 hits. In a short stint in the majors last season, Lopez had a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings in six starts and five relief appearances for the Nationals.

Does Guaranteed Rate Field await the Dominican right-hander?

White Sox minor league trade could signal more big league moves to come

White Sox minor league trade could signal more big league moves to come

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What may appear at face value to be a deal for pitching depth could be a precursor of more White Sox trades to come.

The White Sox acquired Triple-A relief pitchers Mark Lowe and Jean Machi from the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners) on Friday night. While the move merely could be to add bullpen arms to a system short on them after trades and injuries have depleted their depth, the White Sox could also be preparing themselves for the next wave of moves. David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle may be gone.

But the White Sox still possess a strong rental reliever in veteran Anthony Swarzak and left-hander Dan Jennings could also draw interest even though his 4.05 ERA is the highest he’d had since coming to the White Sox.

“We are still open for business,” general manager Rick Hahn said on Tuesday night. “We’re starting to get a little younger in that clubhouse. A few guys are starting to get opportunities over the next few weeks and months. It will be interesting to see. If we don’t do anything over the next couple weeks we’ll have a better assessment of where we are heading into the off-season, perhaps set some things up for them.”

A free agent in the offseason, Swarzak has a 2.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 44 innings this season. Jennings has a career 2.94 ERA in 278 games.

Lowe has spent the entire season at Tacoma. He has a 4.22 ERA in 382 career games in the majors. Machi has a 3.38 ERA in 194 games in the bigs and has pitched for San Francisco, Boston and Seattle. He had a 3.44 ERA in 29 games at Tacoma.

The White Sox intend to have Tyler Clippard work as their closer after the departures of Robertson and Kahnle, manager Rick Renteria said.

Hahn has already been extremely busy this month, making a pair of deals that netted seven prospects and Clippard. He dealt Jose Quintana to the Cubs on July 13 for four prospects and traded Robertson, Kahnle and Todd Frazier to the Yankees on Tuesday.