White Sox

Jake Peavy has message for Chicago: Don't sleep on the White Sox

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Jake Peavy has message for Chicago: Don't sleep on the White Sox

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Chicago Cubs are coming. In November, they were that storm way off in the distance. But with spring training ending in a week, baseball is bracing for a Cubbie Hurricane that is expected to blast its way through the major leagues. The noise they’ll make in Wrigleyville could be something short of deafening.

But for a pitcher who once upon a time almost became a Cub, was later traded to the White Sox and went on to play for two World Series championship teams, Jake Peavy has a message to those who believe there will only be one winning baseball team in Chicago this season.

“Chicago’s a great town. I know there’s a lot of talk on the other side of town. Don’t sleep on that South Side team,” Peavy said about the White Sox in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.

When the White Sox decided to change course and start a rebuild in 2013, Peavy was the first domino to fall. He was dealt to the Red Sox in a three-team trade that brought Avisail Garcia from the Tigers to the White Sox. That deal also included pitcher Frankie Montas, who was a key piece in the Todd Frazier trade this off-season.

[MORE: White Sox: Carson Fulmer accomplished much before reassignment]

One by one, Rick Hahn and company have added pieces from here, there and everywhere to get the White Sox back in contention: Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, David Robertson, Carlos Rodon, Alex Avila, Jimmy Rollins, and Frazier to name a few.

Facing his former team on Sunday for the second time this spring, Peavy has gotten an up close look at this new White Sox arsenal, and he’s come away impressed. 

“I told Jimmy (Rollins) and Brett Lawrie, ‘You all have a good team,’ and those guys believe it.”

But for most of Chicago to believe, the White Sox have to prove it on the field, something they haven’t done since 2012 when they led the Central Division from May until September, but faded down the stretch, finishing second to the Tigers.

That seems so long ago now. 

Since 2012, the White Sox have finished a combined 62 games under .500.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

One key ingredient that was missing from the White Sox in Peavy’s last year was energy. All of the starting position players had quiet, laid-back personalities, which can be a detriment over the course of a long, grueling 162-game season.

“You have to have those energy guys. We were lacking that,” Peavy said. 

Now the White Sox have Eaton, Lawrie, Cabrera, Rollins and Frazier. Energy alone doesn’t equate to a winning season, but it’s awfully tough to win without it.

“The players in the clubhouse that can bring that energy on a daily basis should change the (White Sox) makeup and the way they go about it,” Peavy said. “I think the South Side of Chicago could be as fun as the North if those guys figure out a way to play together and become a team.”

And if they do, Peavy has one wish.

“Let’s meet in the World Series.”

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.