White Sox

With comeback win, White Sox give one last helping of ‘Ricky’s boys don’t quit’ in home finale

With comeback win, White Sox give one last helping of ‘Ricky’s boys don’t quit’ in home finale

As if it weren't already on display enough this month, the White Sox trotted out their revamped culture once more on Thursday night.

Technically, they sprinted it out.

Much to the Los Angeles Angels’ surprise, Tim Anderson scored all the way from first base on a two-out, eighth-inning Rymer Liriano single to cap a thrilling comeback and send the White Sox to a 5-4 victory in the home finale. Not only did they further the notion that their manager's style has taken hold, the White Sox scored three times in their final at-bat to provide a boisterous Guaranteed Rate Field crowd with one more reminder that Ricky's Boys Don't Quit.

“We just had a lot of energy,” Anderson said. “That’s something that Ricky brings out of us. He just says ‘Play hard,’ and that’s something that he branded in us.”

It’s not difficult to see Renteria’s impact on his team’s effort level during a September in which they’re now 14-13. Where many teams have mailed it in, the rebuilding White Sox have rebounded after trades brought on a summer slump.

The new attitude has been a running theme for the White Sox since Renteria was hired. While they weren’t sure who would fill out their uniforms, Renteria wanted to ensure that anyone who did would consistently give their all. General manager Rick Hahn was adamant that changing his team’s culture was just as important as the players he brought in.

Despite their 66-93 record, there’s little question the White Sox have given anything but their all this month. Thursday’s rally began with Avisail Garcia’s two-out double off Jesse Chavez, the outfielder’s 50th extra-base hit of the season. Catcher Rob Brantly followed with a game-tying, two-run homer to right ahead of Anderson’s single. Anderson took off running and never slowed down when Liriano’s grounder found the hole. The second-year shortstop watched third-base coach Nick Capra continue to wave him along, a decision that clearly caught Angels left fielder Ben Revere by surprise. The veteran threw the ball to second base, which allowed Anderson to score the go-ahead run without a throw.

Anderson completed the trek in 9.12 seconds, the seventh fastest first to home time in the majors this season, according to Statcast.

It’s the kind of play that’s emblematic of the new culture, one Hahn said earlier Thursday with which he’s very pleased.

“These guys fight every night, and they hustle every night,” Hahn said. “That’s the mentality he and the coaching staff have helped create. Even the veteran players who are here before we moved them embraced it. … They’re playing a brand of baseball I think White Sox fans can be proud of, and the ones who have spoken to me are certainly proud of.”

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Renteria was pretty pleased, too.

His team provided the home crowd with a strong final impression, the type of victory he relishes. They’ve also given themselves one more example of how buying in can lead to unexpected victories. While nobody is claiming the White Sox are on the precipice of turning it around entirely, they do think they’re headed in the right direction. As Renteria noted before the game, “the little choo choo is moving forward.”

“The way they’ve been playing right now, you continue to build confidence,” Renteria said. “The other thing is how they’re doing, the things to put themselves in a position to win ballgames.

“I know we were down the whole ballgame, but you just keep playing the game. I don’t think they think too much about it other than when they have a moment they have to take advantage of.”

New White Sox ambassador A.J. Pierzynski wants to get Hawk Harrelson into the Hall of Fame — and Hawk thinks A.J. should be there, too

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AP

New White Sox ambassador A.J. Pierzynski wants to get Hawk Harrelson into the Hall of Fame — and Hawk thinks A.J. should be there, too

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A.J. Pierzynski is back with the White Sox, somewhat informally announcing himself Monday in the crowded lobby of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort that he’ll be a team ambassador.

But while ambassadors typically spend time glad-handing, making appearances and throwing out ceremonial first pitches, Pierzynski has a very specific No. 1 goal now that he’s back on the South Side: send Hawk Harrelson to Cooperstown.

“My biggest goal is to get him into the Hall of Fame,” Pierzynski said, obviously beginning his campaign by wearing a baseball hat that said “Hawk” on it. “How you guys haven’t voted him into the Hall of Fame is beyond me. He needs to be in the Hall of Fame. Hawk is a special person and once in a multi-generation announcer. People use his phrases all the time walking down the street. They don’t even know where it came from. Hawk is special and special to White Sox fans and special to me and my family.”

Pierzynski spoke lovingly of the White Sox icon, the longtime announcer who will spend his final season in the broadcast booth in 2018. That’s one of Pierzynski’s other goals, by the way, to call a game alongside Harrelson in this, his last season behind the mic.

“Hopefully we’ll make it work,” Pierzynski said. He’s got some broadcasting chops now, too, after working with FOX. “I’ll move heaven and Earth to make sure I’m able to get at least one game in with Hawk, since it is his last year and we need to make this happen. We tried to make it happen last year, timing didn’t work because of FOX stuff. This year only doing Sunday games, it will make it a lot easier to be able to come out and just ride on Hawk’s coattails.”

But before you think it was a one-sided lovefest, the other half of that broadcasting-duo-to-be was present, too. Both Pierzynski and Harrelson are Orlando residents, so the drive to Disney World couldn’t have been a long one.

Harrelson had some reciprocal love for Pierzynski, making his own statement that the former catcher should get Hall of Fame consideration, as well.

“A.J., to me, you know he’s done something no other catcher will probably do, and that’s why I think he’s a very strong candidate for the Hall of Fame, is he caught 1,000 or more innings 12 consecutive years. I don’t think we'll ever see that again.”

“There’s nobody in baseball, with all these people here, every organization in baseball, there’s nobody in this room, this hotel and both these hotels, who knows more than about baseball than A.J. Pierzynski. He looks at the game differently than most people. If you watch him on TV as an analyst, he brings up some stuff that’s just fantastic. So he’s got a future in that.”

What becomes of this mutual Hall of Fame stumping remains to be seen. Pierzynski’s immediate future with the White Sox will include being part of the Opening Day festivities, representing the club at the Major League Baseball draft and attending some games on the South Side. Of course, the game or games that will likely be of most interest to White Sox fans are the ones where Pierzynski gets to team up with Harrelson in the booth.

That’s a lock to be entertaining television.

“A.J. has been one of my real joys, ever since he was a kid,” Harrelson said before reaffirming Pierzynski’s longtime reputation — something that often endeared himself to White Sox fans. “He was the most hated high school baseball player in Orlando. He had guys knocking down, drilling him, they hated him. He just carried it right on through, minor leagues to the big leagues. Ozzie (Guillen) said it best, he said half the guys on the team don’t like him, the other half hate him.”

Contending Cubs and rebuilding White Sox have Hawk Harrelson seeing a wonderful next decade of Chicago baseball

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AP

Contending Cubs and rebuilding White Sox have Hawk Harrelson seeing a wonderful next decade of Chicago baseball

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Anyone else jazzed for a potential Red Line World Series?

On the North Side of town, the Cubs’ championship window is wide open and figures to be for some time. On the South Side, a lengthy list of highly ranked prospects has White Sox fans dreaming of a lengthy stay among baseball’s top teams.

One notable Chicago baseball figure who thinks the Windy City’s on the cusp of a golden age of baseball on both sides of town? Hawk Harrelson.

Despite his repeated pledges to never again set foot inside Wrigley Field, the longtime White Sox announcer — who’s embarking on his final season in the broadcast booth — had some high praise for the Cubs. And of course he’s as excited about the White Sox rebuilding efforts as anyone.

“Last month we were at an induction into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame. (Cubs chairman) Tom Ricketts was there. I congratulated him on winning a world championship. I also told him in two years from now our club is going to have a lot of fun playing his,” Harrelson said Monday at baseball’s Winter Meetings. “Because they’re not going anywhere, they’re good. That makes it good for us because it makes us have to get better. And when you have to get better you work a little harder, subconsciously or consciously. That’s the way sports is. Inner drive, and getting that adrenaline flowing.

“Chicago fans are going to have a wonderful next decade in baseball.”

The famously tangent-prone Harrelson touched on a wide array of topics in a crowded lobby at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, including baseball’s future and how one recent restructuring proposal could have the Cubs and White Sox playing in the same division.

“We’re going to see a reorganization in baseball, and it’s actually going to be, in my opinion, for decades and decades, a tremendous boon,” he said. “But the end result will take something away from it, where we’re going to be playing the Cubs 18 times a year. … That’s going to happen. It’s not going to happen for a long time yet, but it will happen.”

He also had glowing words for managers on both sides of town, channeling his “Ricky’s boys don’t quit!” mantra from 2017 by talking about how hard both the White Sox and Cubs players play for their respective managers.

“The mark of a good manager is not wins and losses. A mark of the good manager is these,” Harrelson said, pointing to his eyes. “How hard do they play for him? And we’ve got two terrific managers in Chicago in Rick Renteria and Joe Maddon. You saw how hard our guys played this year. We only won, what, 67 games this year? You see how Maddon’s guys play for him. They never quit. Our guys don’t quit. Now we’re outgunned, outmanned. But playing hard?”

It should come as no surprise that Harrelson is one of the biggest advocates and supporters of the White Sox rebuilding effort, and he added Monday that he’s never seen a rebuild get off to as fast a start as Rick Hahn has with the White Sox. But Harrelson has also lauded Renteria as the right manager for the job on the South Side.

As part of an analysis on the ever-growing number of players from Spanish-speaking countries in the game, he cited Renteria as the model for the future of managing.

“You’re going to see more and more Latin managers come into this game because nothing is going to be lost in translation,” he said. “I am so happy that we have Rick Renteria at the helm. I saw a thing last year, I could kick myself for not taking a photo of it. In Minnesota, there was (Avisail Garcia), (Jose) Abreu, (Leury) Garcia and Rick Renteria sitting around the table in the food room. They were laughing their behinds off. They were having such a good time talking about baseball and having good times, and you just don’t see those three guys in that mode. And Rick had them in stitches, speaking Spanish, of course. And then when he had his meetings in spring training, half of it was in English and half was in Spanish. So that is a trend.”

For a team so focused on the future, the man who’s seen it all — a man who hopes to be in baseball for parts of eight decades — sees not just a future contender but the future of the game in what is brewing on the South Side.