White Sox

Manto knows there's a lot of work to be done

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Manto knows there's a lot of work to be done

By Jim Owczarski
CSNChicago.com

Playing nine years of major league baseball for eight teams, along with a stint in Japan, followed by two years as a hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates and four years in the Chicago White Sox organization, Jeff Manto has seen pretty much everything in the game.

Yet on Oct. 31, 2011, Manto was put in a position he never quite imagined. It wasnt being named the Chicago White Sox hitting coach thats old hat.

It was being named to an assistant coaching position in a city where fans not only know who you are, but want to hear from you. They cheer and jeer you, and sometimes you have to bear an undue brunt of frustration if things go poorly and receive perhaps too much credit when things go well.

Its something the 47-year-old has had to acclimate himself to rather quickly.

Ive seen that you pick up the papers and see quotes from the pitching coach and the hitting coach and the infield coach and I thought that was unusual, he said following a coaching seminar Saturday afternoon at SoxFest. I like to stay out of the way. Its (manager) Robin (Venturas) team. Id rather him give all the answers. But, I also know the dynamic of the city and they want to hear from me, Ill give them answers.

He smiled.

They might get a better answer from Robin.

Manto steps into the role vacated by Greg Walker, a coach beloved by his players but one the fans turned on quickly and often during his eight year tenure.

Though Manto paid Walker tribute for his hard work and the players shouldered all the blame for a season in which the team hit .252 with 154 home runs, the man affectionately known as Walk resigned on the last day of the season.

Enter Manto, who walks into a situation where multiple players are coming off disastrous offensive seasons. Brent Morel hit .245. Gordon Beckham hit .230. Alex Rios hit .227 and Adam Dunn hit .159.

The pressure is already on.

"Bottom line, if we hit, we're competing in the division, general manager Kenny Williams said. If we don't, we won't. Period."

Manto brings some experience with many of the current regulars after spending the past four seasons in the organization as its minor league hitting coordinator. He worked with Beckham, Morel, Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo and backup catcher Tyler Flowers. He also is familiar Brent Lillibridge from their time in the Pirates organization.

I do have a real sense of what they do and what theyre trying to do, Manto said. With Rios and Dunn, they might be different hitters but its just talking to them, seeing where they are. I want them to give me information. I dont want to give them the information because I want to see what they have to say.

You just trust the track record. Thats the simple thing. A lot of people are saying this is going to be a real tough job but I dont look at that way. My experience doesnt accept that. You understand a track record is a track record and these guys are great. The job I have (is) to get them back a spot theyre comfortable.

To his credit, Manto is embracing the role as much as he can. He opened a hitting seminar on Saturday alongside Lillibridge and Dunn by making a joke as to how important he is to everyone. But in the end, he hopes to spend more time away from the camera lights and tape recorders.

Hopefully people understand that its Robins team, its Robins hitters and Im just an extension of what hes trying to do, he said.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

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.