White Sox

Bob Costas: White Sox made 'right choice' with Jason Benetti


Bob Costas: White Sox made 'right choice' with Jason Benetti

Legendary broadcaster Bob Costas was intrigued to meet Jason Benetti 10 years ago for several reasons.

Costas and the new White Sox play-by-play man share an alma mater, Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. And Costas appreciates and respects how Benetti has dealt with his disability.

But the admiration Costas — one of several fabled broadcasters whom the Homewood-Flossmoor product considers a mentor — has for Benetti extends beyond their initial connections. And Costas thinks the abilities that Benetti possesses make him a perfect hire for the White Sox.

“They’re getting one of the best young broadcasters around, getting someone who not only has talent, but who loves and understands the craft,” Costas told CSNChicago.com. “And because of his pretty close to unique circumstances, he is deeply appreciative of everything that this means. He appreciates and understands the history of the craft, he understands the history of the game and he understands and appreciates that he now has a chance to be a part of it.

“Yes, it’s a career move. But it’s more than that. He appreciates it on a personal level.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jason Benetti gives fans new voice to root for and follow]

The career of Costas - who attended Newhouse - has spanned more than 40 years. Having worked more high-profile events than one could keep track of, the 26-time Emmy Award winner has met his share of ambitious young announcers.

Benetti stood out immediately.

Of course there’s the Newhouse connection, a network of alums that looks out for one another (Mike Tirico and Sean McDonough are also Syracuse products and Benetti mentors). And Benetti was up front that he was born with Cerebral Palsy, which distinguished him, Costas said.

But Benetti’s talent is the real draw, Costas said.

“What struck me about him as a broadcaster was he had very good command of language,” Costas said. “Some people have the same couple dozen ways to describe things and that’s that. With him there’s a great deal of variety.

“His powers of description are better than the average person, especially starting out.

“Early on he had that knack.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Cubs' Len Kasper had big influence on new White Sox announcer Jason Benetti]

Benetti remembers the first time Costas called.

“When he said ‘Hello,’ he didn’t even have to say his name,” Benetti said. “He’s so distinctive. It’s beautiful.”

Benetti describes his mentors, a group that includes Costas, Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper, McDonough, Ian Eagle and Tirico, as “aim-higher people” who offered both encouragement and feedback.

“Those people in that group … basically said, ‘Be you and do great work and here is how I would like to help,'" Benetti said.

Early in his career, Costas received assistance in several forms.

Syracuse professor Stan Alten offered critical feedback - “even after I was at NBC, through the mid-80s, I would hear from him,” Costas said. And previous bosses, namely KMOX’s Bob Hyland and NBC’s Dick Ebersol, instilled the confidence Costas needed when they took chances and hired him.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Familiar with Benetti’s work for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, Costas knew Benetti didn’t need much critical assistance. He thought Benetti mostly needed more repetitions to hone his style.

“What he needed more than anything else was encouragement and occasional feedback,” Costas said. “He didn’t really need someone to tell him, ‘Do this. Don’t that.' He already kind of understood it.”

What has impressed Costas perhaps most are the work ethic and preparation, the respect for his role and how Benetti has handled his disability. That combination, along with his vocabulary and delivery, has Costas confident about Benetti’s future with the White Sox.

“He acknowledges it, but he minimizes it simultaneously,” Costas said. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, here it is. It’s not holding me back. If that reality inspires anyone else, than so much the better. But I don’t want it to be the very first and only thing people think about when they think about me.’ And his work has assured that’s going to be the case.”

“His background makes him an interesting story. But his talent and quality of craftsmanship are what make him the right choice.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”