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.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."