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White Sox hang on to Jeff Samardzija, stand pat at deadline

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White Sox hang on to Jeff Samardzija, stand pat at deadline

Despite the hype and hysteria, the White Sox didn’t budge before Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.

They didn’t trade pitcher Jeff Samardzija, nor did they acquire either of the high-profile bats they were attached to Thursday. Yoenis Cespedes was traded to the New York Mets while Justin Upton — the White Sox reportedly asked about both — stayed put in San Diego.

But given where they stand — 11 1/2 back of Kansas City in the American League Central and 3 1/2 out in the AL wild-card race — the White Sox opted for patience instead of an aggressive approach. Rather than pay outrageous sums for future free agents, the White Sox, who opened a six-game homestand on Friday night, stayed with what they have.

“I do think we passed on perhaps some opportunities to do something that might have been a little short-sighted and might have compromised us for an extended period,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Our focus has been on putting us in the best position not to jump up and win once, but try to be in this mix on an annual basis. We are not inclined to compromise that.

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“We weren’t gonna do something so drastic that was gonna compromise us for years to come.”

The White Sox have made significant gains over the past eight days, winning seven games. Hahn admits the team’s rejuvenated offense had the White Sox considering possible trades for rental players.

From the outset, Hahn said he only wanted to add long-term pieces that could help the White Sox over the next few seasons. Expensive rentals weren’t part of the plan, but a 7-1 road trip made it impossible not to explore. What Hahn and his front office found, however, wasn’t to their liking.

The minimum asking price: Tim Anderson and Frankie Montas.

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“Would have liked to been able to reinforce a lot of what the guys in the clubhouse have been able to accomplish the lastmonth,” Hahn said. “In some ways almost reward what they’ve done. And there’s still the potential to do that in August with waiver deals. There’s still the opportunity to make this team better, from the outside and the inside.”

Many believed the White Sox would improve their future with a trade of Samardzija, who is expected to head to free agency after the season. Until several days ago, peddling Samardzija to the highest bidder seemed like the obvious move. But as the White Sox continued to win, a trade of Samardzija became less likely.

A baseball source said Friday the White Sox had attached an “outrageous” price tag on Samardzija. By keeping him, the White Sox can still take a shot at the postseason while hanging on to Samardzija and they can recoup a compensatory draft pick by extending him a qualifying offer.

“It’s our responsibility to at least hear out all ideas,” Hahn said. “It was not something that we were pushing or really focused on doing, certainly not the past several days. But it was more about if somebody wants to overwhelm us in a certain situation than we had to at the very least think it over.”

The thought process behind no move — “it’s a little frustrating,” Hahn said — came down to big risk versus little reward. While they have nine meetings left with Kansas City, the White Sox must make up considerable ground. The Royals have won seven of 10 meetings this season and added Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The Toronto Blue Jays added Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, among others. Houston and the Los Angeles Angels also improved, as did the Minnesota Twins.

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While they’d take their chances in a one-game playoff, the White Sox don’t want to overpay to get there and opted to ride it out with the team they have.

“(The Royals) are the kings of the hill so to speak, having won the pennant last year,” Hahn said. “Given the distance they’ve been able to create between us and them in the division made it clear that when we are talking about a postseason chance for this ballclub, it’s more likely than not a wild card. That puts you in a different situation.”

“We were optimistic we were gonna be able to get something done. Ultimately, the cost just didn’t justify the return.”

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.