White Sox

Jacob Turner gets crack at trusted spot in White Sox bullpen

Jacob Turner gets crack at trusted spot in White Sox bullpen

KANSAS CITY -- Jacob Turner found himself in an unfamiliar yet desirable position when he started the 10th inning for the White Sox on Tuesday night.

Don’t be surprised if you see him or Dan Jennings in similar trusted spots once again.

With the back of the bullpen short on experience beyond David Robertson, Nate Jones and Matt Albers, White Sox manager Robin Ventura knows he’ll have to turn to several new faces in key spots. Ventura mentioned that Turner, who started the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals, would be one of the first.

“You’re going to take some chances with some guys and move them around,” Ventura said. “Turner is the guy that’s really kind of pushed himself out there to be used in some high-leverage situations. We know where Nate is going to be and Robby is to be, but you can kind of mix and match there with Turner and Jennings in the seventh.”

Turner’s stuff has quickly moved him up the bullpen food chain. His four-seam fastball has averaged just under 95 mph and his sinker has exceeded 95 this season. As a reliever, Turner has also done a better job attacking hitters, albeit in a limited sample size. But in 23 1/3 career innings in relief, Turner has walked three batters compared with 111 bases on balls in 286 innings as a starter.

So for now, Turner will get a chance.

“There’s not much experience,” Ventura said. “But you’re starting to see his stuff really magnified by being able to go out there for an inning. There’s a little more velocity to it. It’s sharper stuff, and for the hitters, they don’t get a whole trip through the lineup to sit there and look at it and time it and get a good idea of what he’s got that day. For him, I think it’s beneficial for him to go out there and do it.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

Turner, who missed all of last season with right shoulder inflammation, is thrilled to have the opportunity. He said he labored to improve his arm strength in the offseason and feels he can handle the workload. And he isn’t worried about his role, whether he’s a starter or pitching out of the bullpen.

He just wants a chance.

Tuesday he received one. While he gave up a double and allowed an unearned run, Turner recorded two outs before he gave way to Jennings. Jennings recorded his first career save by retiring Eric Hosmer.

“Those are the situations you want to be in, close game, winning, chance to finish off the game,” Turner said. “Those are the situations anybody in the bullpen wants to be in bullpen. I have a little experience …

“Just trying to develop a routine. I’ve been enjoying it and trying to take the success I’ve had out there.”

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

GLENDALE, AZ --  There’s a different Tim Anderson at White Sox spring training this year.

You can see it on his face  You can hear it in his voice.

“I’m busting out of the shell. I’m talking more,” he said as he sat down for an interview with NBC Sports Chicago (in the video above).

It’s not the new Tim Anderson. It turns out, it’s the real one that’s been there all along.

“This is me. It’s always been me. I never knew how to express myself. I feel like I’m being a lot more open,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I want to give to fans. Let them know the real me. You’re cheering for me. Why not know me? I’m being open and kind of let fans into my life.”

The White Sox shortstop has learned a lot about life in the past year. It all started in May when the White Sox were in Baltimore to play the Orioles. Anderson received a phone call at 4 a.m. It was news from back home.

It was the worst phone call of his life.

His best friend Branden Moss had been murdered in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar after helping the victim of a fight.  

The two were like brothers. Anderson is the godfather to Moss’s young daughter. Moss was the godfather to Anderson’s 2-year-old daughter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said.

While Anderson grieved, playing baseball seemed like it would be a perfect escape for his pain. Only it wasn’t. Far from it.  Baseball might have made things even worse.

In fast-paced sports like football and hockey, players don’t have much time to think. It’s react, react, react. Whatever might be happening off the field feels like a million miles away.

Not in baseball.

The game moves at a much slower speed. There’s plenty of time for your mind to wander. Thoughts kept going back to Anderson’s lost friend, taken from him in an instant.

At 23, he didn’t have the tools to deal with the emotional pain and excel at baseball at the same time.

“The year was rough. I wasn’t having fun in between the lines. I was making the game harder than it was. I was thinking too much. I was feeling sorry for myself and the list can go on. When my friend died it definitely took a lot out of me. I had a dark moment,” Anderson said. “Some days I didn’t feel comfortable coming to the ballpark because I knew it was going to be a bad day.”

Making matters worse, there were many nights when Anderson didn’t sleep. Not a wink. Still, he dragged himself to the ballpark and somehow tried to play.

The results weren’t pretty. On June 22, Anderson already had 16 errors at shortstop, most in the majors. At the plate, he was hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He knew he was better than that. He also knew something else: He needed help.

In July, Anderson started meeting with a therapist who was able to unlock the pent up thoughts and emotions that he was burying inside him.

The therapist would write down everything that Anderson was feeling on paper and then read it back to him.

“Just going in and talking and pouring everything out of you. It lets you hear what you’ve been going through,“ Anderson said. “When she did it, it was a lot. I took what she read to me, balled it up and threw it away. I got lighter. It was a brightening. Those counseling sessions definitely helped me.”

Soon, Anderson was back to being himself both on and off the field.

In the month of August, he had 8 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI.

“Woof. I was hot,” he said after hearing those stats. “That’s Tim. That’s more Tim that we need to see.”

In September, he batted .327 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases.

“We need a lot of that this year. That’s the way I want to go. That’s the way I want to go about it. Get back to what got me here.”

There was still an issue with his plate discipline. He had 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk in September.

“We play a tough sport as it is. They’re going to come,” Anderson said about the walks. “I mean, when I walk more, what are you going to tell me? ‘Start swinging more?’ It’s one of those things. It’s a give and take. We’ll see what happens.”

In 2017, Anderson received a crash course in adversity. What did he learn from all that pain and misery?

“Tough times happen, but they don’t last forever.”

Now that he’s survived the personal storm from last season, he wants “another shot at it. I feel like last year went left. This is new season.”

So, what does he envision for himself in 2018?

“Having fun, smiling a lot, picking up my teammates, hugging on the coaches and players. A lot of love, more so than stats,” Anderson said. “I’m fired up. I’m excited. I feel like I’m ready to lead this pack. We got a great group of guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

The White Sox top pitching prospect sits down with Chuck Garfien for a revealing interview at spring training. Kopech says he almost quit the game after he got into a fight with a Red Sox minor league teammate in 2016. He goes in-depth about his desire to be great, why meditating makes him a better pitcher, his failed PED test in 2015, comparisons to Justin Verlander, possibly becoming the future ace of the White Sox and much more.