White Sox

Robin Ventura: White Sox bullpen has different 'vibe' in 2015


Robin Ventura: White Sox bullpen has different 'vibe' in 2015

CLEVELAND -- Perhaps his new bullpen feels different for Robin Ventura because it hasn’t had his stomach in knots.

Last year’s relievers often had Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper feeling queasy as they tried to determine who could get the job done. Though it’s early, the White Sox manager already likes the weapons he has at the back end of his bullpen.

Led by closer David Robertson and setup man Zach Duke, the White Sox feel better prepared for late-game situations and they’re still not at full strength.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Quintana, bullpen lead White Sox to third straight win]

“Every time you turn around and your roster changes, it changes the dynamic of your team and having guys in the bullpen like that, there’s just a different vibe to it,” Ventura said.

The vibe had to be changed if the White Sox had any hope of turning it around this season. Last year’s bullpen blew 21 of 57 save opportunities. To remedy the situation, Duke and Robertson received $61 million worth of contracts this offseason. The White Sox also traded for left-hander Dan Jennings in December, sending Andre Rienzo to the Miami Marlins.

The new-look ‘pen had its strongest showing to date in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Cleveland Indians when Jennings, Duke and Robertson struck out eight in three scoreless innings. Robertson earned his second save of the season.

“We’ve got a good thing going, for sure,” Duke said. “We’re ready to take the ball and get the job done.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Melky Cabrera 'relieved' to hear Indians pitcher is OK]

Catcher Tyler Flowers is impressed with the wide-ranging repertoires of the team’s new additions. Jennings is a southpaw with a fastball/slider combo. Duke has two different arm slots from which to work and Robertson features a 94-mph fastball and a hard-breaking curveball.

“We’re putting them in good situations getting some runs across, getting us the lead and letting those guys prepare and come in ready to execute and they’ve been doing that,” Flowers said. “They’ve been doing a good job.”

Reinforcements could be on the way soon, too.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

If he can replicate last season’s performance, right-hander Jake Petricka  (2.96 ERA in 2014) would be a steady addition. Petricka, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore forearm, came out of Monday’s 25-pitch simulate game in good shape and Ventura hopes he could return by this weekend.

Down the road, the White Sox hope for contributions from Nate Jones, who can’t come off the 60-day DL until June 4, and Jesse Crain, who is still in extended spring training.

But Ventura feels like he and Cooper can make some sense of what they already have in hand.

“Just the feeling of those guys coming out there, I think Jennings and Duke and Robertson is a nice combination right now,” Ventura said. “You have some veteran guys with Duke and Robertson, you’re seeing a different feeling just because of their experience and their talent.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Meet the real Tim Anderson


White Sox Talk Podcast: Meet the real Tim Anderson

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, Tim Anderson opens up about his struggles in 2017 and why he wants White Sox fans "to know the real me."

Anderson dives into his personal tragedy from last season when his best friend was murdered in Alabama. 

He talks with Chuck Garfien about the dark days that happened, how counseling helped him, his new leadership role in 2018, if he'll draw more walks this season, "bringing swag to the South Side" with Yoan Moncada and much more.

Listen to the full White Sox Talk Podcast right here:

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.”