White Sox

Life coach: Jimmy Rollins' mentorship of Tim Anderson extends off the field

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Life coach: Jimmy Rollins' mentorship of Tim Anderson extends off the field

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmy Rollins has been a mentor to prospect Tim Anderson since he joined White Sox camp last week just as the team hoped.

But so far, the focus has been on a different due date than when Anderson is expected to arrive in the majors. On Sunday, the team’s top prospect is scheduled to travel to Georgia for the birth of his daughter. The team has excused Anderson for several days and doctors are expected to induce labor on March 7.

So while their future discussions may include pitch selection and positioning at the bag, for now Anderson and Rollins have talked about family obligations and being a father.

“Just life, really,” Anderson said. “Off the field stuff — what to expect when you get to the big leagues and family issues, whatever. We talk about a lot.

“I’m kind of talking about when I have a girl. He’s just saying ‘Enjoy it.’”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jimmy Rollins likes opportunity to 'fight for a position' with White Sox]

Before Rollins arrived, Anderson thought he might be star struck around the veteran shortstop. Anderson said he loved to watch Rollins play throughout his career and expected he might be in awe. But Anderson wasted no time in approaching Rollins and he hasn’t shied away from asking questions, either.

Rollins — who has two daughters of his own — said topics have varied but he likes how Anderson looks at the big picture.

“He’s a real good kid,” Rollins said. “He’s just looking for people to make sure that he’s in the right direction and that’s a good thing. You’ve got kids that are out there looking to get in trouble and he’s like, ‘No.’

“Good way to go about it.”

The White Sox thought they would get much more than just a shortstop when they signed Rollins to a minor-league deal earlier this month. Rollins’ teammates on the Los Angeles Dodgers praised him for his leadership, and top prospect Corey Seager said the ex-National League MVP’s mentorship has been a huge influence.

The White Sox have been pleased to see how Rollins has interacted with both Anderson and Tyler Saladino. Not only is Rollins competing to take over as the starting shortstop, he doubles as a sounding board for the team’s future pieces.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Young White Sox shortstops eager to work with Jimmy Rollins]

“This is exactly what you would expect from him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s taking care of his own business and also has the ability to put his arm around somebody and take somebody under his wing. Timmy I’m sure watched him grow up and idolized him. To have somebody as classy as Jimmy, we’re fortunate to have that, especially for Tim.”

It hasn’t been strictly off the field topics for Rollins and Anderson.

Rollins has watched Anderson work and noted — “he has some hands — he’s quick.” He also likes how Anderson listens and thinks that should help him adapt.

One area they may discuss later is Anderson using criticism as a motivator. Anderson admits he knows some observers wonder whether he’ll stick at shortstop and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He occasionally Tweets about those reviews and how he uses them as motivation.

“That’s just the word out there that I can’t play so I just want to everybody I can,” Anderson said. “That’s just in my mind, everybody’s saying I can’t play that position and it really keeps me going and makes me work harder to prove I can stay there.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, White Sox fans!]

Rollins thinks criticism can be a good motivator if properly used. Fellow Bay Area native Tom Brady is a perfect example as he uses it to find a way to stay inspired, Rollins said. But he wants to make sure Anderson doesn’t allow criticism to eat away at him.

“You don’t need to read that stuff to know who you are, to know if you had a good game or a bad game, to know where you need to work on, to know what you do well,” Rollins said. “You know that yourself. You can read 100 articles and 90 of them are excellent. But you’ll spending the rest of your time worrying about the 10 and why these 10 articles are written as such about me. Some people, it’s motivating and other people it can destroy. If he’s able to do that and balance it, then that’s good. It’s something I’ll definitely talk to him about.”

They have only worked together for a week and already Anderson said he’s learned a lot from Rollins. Not only have they discussed fatherhood, other familial obligations have come up. Anderson said he feels fortunate to have Rollins around.

“No is a powerful word,” Anderson of Rollins’ best advice. “On the family side, once you do reach the big league level, you’re going to have new friends and family members that come out of the woodwork that you’ve never met before. You know you’ve got to stay true to yourself. Take care of yourself first and family that has been there from the beginning.

“He looks out for me a lot, takes care of me. I really appreciate it and look up to him. I thank him a lot for that.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

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?

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AP

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.”