White Sox

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

Avisail Garcia's "big head" almost cost the White Sox on Friday night. At least, that's Reynaldo Lopez's humorous theory. 

With the game on the line and the Royals' tying run dashing for the plate, Garcia slipped a bit before making a clutch recovery to nail Whit Merrifield. The craziness continued after the tag as Narvaez caught Lorenzo Cain drifting off first base to seal a win. 

"I was watching the game on the TV here," Lopez said, "and then when I saw the hit from Cain, and I saw that Avi fell down because he has a big head, I was concerned but at the same time I saw that his throw, he has a good arm and he made a very good throw." 

Just your average 9-2-4-6 double play to end a game on the South Side, right? 

"Obviously, when he slipped we took a little gasp," Renteria said. "But we were talking about his body control to be able to maintain himself enough to get up and make the throw that he did. Unbelievable. It's a pretty exciting finish to a ballgame that kind of got a little ugly early on."

Ugly is an apt way to describe the first few innings. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both made errors in the Royals' six-run third inning, and Lopez capped it off with a wild pitch that allowed Eric Hosmer to score. But it went from an eyesore loss to a solid rebuild win from there, and Garcia's defense -- of all things -- played a significant role. 

Garcia's outfield assist in the ninth was his second of the game. The first, an absolute strike to cut down Alex Gordon in the sixth, didn't involve a slip, though. 

And while much has been made of Garcia's breakout year with the bat, he believes his defense is hugely improved, too. 

"I think 100 percent," he said. "I just try to get better every day with hitting and defense. That’s baseball so get better in everything."

He has 12 outfield assists on the season, up from five a year ago. And despite his overall fielding percentage being down, his strong arm may give him a stronger defensive reputation. 

"Since last year, he's always had an excellent arm," Renteria said. "I think his accuracy is something to be pointed out too because as off balance as he was, he's made some throws to the plate that have been really spot on."

Renteria attributes Garcia's accuracy to the outfielder putting in extra time with Daryl Boston. 

"(Boston) has those guys throwing, and none of you guys are out there watching them work, but they'll throw quite a bit to the bases, especially second base," Renteria said. "They'll get deep and they'll work on doing that, so that's just a part of their routine."

The evolution of Avi carries on. 

White Sox reportedly not offering up top prospects for Manny Machado

White Sox reportedly not offering up top prospects for Manny Machado

The Manny Machado saga spins on, though it’s looking far less promising for White Sox fans who wanted to see the Baltimore Orioles’ superstar third baseman come to the South Side this winter.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale chronicled the latest happenings with Machado in an exhaustive Thursday report that heavily featured the White Sox, who apparently have not decided to blow up their rebuilding effort by dealing away multiple top prospects. That’s not happening, per Nightengale, who reported the White Sox didn’t include any of their highest rated guys in an offer that was at one point reported to be the best out there for Machado. Nightengale did still report the White Sox offer as “solid.”

In fact, as Nightengale continued, it seems the White Sox made their offer completely expecting to have Machado for just the 2018 season. Machado is slated to be one of the headliners of next winter’s crazy good free-agent class.

The catch comes, perhaps not surprisingly to those familiar with the Orioles’ reputation, from Baltimore owner Peter Angelos, who is dramatically concerned that the White Sox would acquire Machado simply to flip him elsewhere in a trade — specifically, Angelos worries, to the New York Yankees, the Orioles’ division rivals. Nightengale added that the White Sox have repeatedly assured the Orioles they won’t do such a thing, but Angelos doesn’t seem to be sold.

The big headline for the White Sox, though, from the whole thing is that all this buzz and speculation doesn’t seem to involve them pulling a 180 on what they’ve worked for more than a year to do: gather a ton of highly touted prospects and build a homegrown champion. Michael Kopech, who seemed to fit the Orioles’ wishes as a young controllable pitcher, has been said to be “untouchable.” And if none of the organization’s top prospects were included in the deal, as Nightengale said, it’d be logical to assume that Lucas Giolito wasn’t involved in the team’s trade proposal either.

The White Sox became the buzz of baseball on the final day of the Winter Meetings with reports flying all over the place that they were making the most aggressive push for Machado and that they had made the Orioles the best offer of any team. The initial, middle-of-the-night report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal listed Kopech and Giolito as potential trade chips.

But a trade seemed to make little sense for the South Siders, who would have to give up multiple of their precious prospects — players projected to be the future of the big league team and deliver perennial contention — for nothing more than one guaranteed season of Machado, who is expected to receive a huge payday once he hits the free-agent market. Even with Machado, the White Sox wouldn’t figure to be a championship contender in 2018. That’d be putting all the eggs into one basket, that one season in Chicago would somehow convince Machado to skip the free-agent frenzy and sign with the White Sox.

Simply put, it’d be an incredibly risky move.

But apparently those aren’t the dice Rick Hahn and his front office are ready to roll, which ought to ease the concerns of rebuild fans, even if it might disappoint those who wanted to see Machado come to Chicago.

Jose Contreras, Tim Raines join A.J. Pierzynski as new White Sox ambassadors

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AP

Jose Contreras, Tim Raines join A.J. Pierzynski as new White Sox ambassadors

The White Sox are welcoming back two more fan favorites.

They added to their growing list of team ambassadors Friday, announcing that Jose Contreras and Tim Raines will be joining A.J. Pierzynski — who made his own announcement Monday at the Winter Meetings — in returning to the organization.

Like Pierzynski, Contreras was a member of the beloved 2005 world championship squad. He teamed with Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland and Orlando Hernandez to form a formidable rotation that season. Contreras posted a 3.61 ERA during the 2005 regular season but was even better in the postseason, turning in a 3.09 ERA in four starts. He pitched into the eighth inning in each of those starts, including a complete-game effort in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, which the White Sox won to clinch the pennant.

All in all, Contreras spent six seasons with the White Sox from 2004 to 2009.

Raines, meanwhile, is a newly enshrined Hall of Famer, inducted earlier this year in honor of his 23-year major league career. He spent five of those seasons on the South Side and holds the franchise record in stolen-base percentage. He swiped 143 bags during his White Sox tenure.

Raines hit 98 doubles, 28 triples and 50 homers in a White Sox uniform.

The addition of this latest trio of ambassadors adds to an already impressive group of former White Sox in that role: Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, Mike Huff, Bo Jackson, Ron Kittle, Carlos May, Bill Melton, Donn Pall, Dan Pasqua and Mike Squires.