White Sox

White Sox have kept it loose despite slow start

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White Sox have kept it loose despite slow start

MILWAUKEE -- He isn’t about to reveal the meaning of the stirring motion but it's evident Gordon Beckham and the White Sox still know how to have fun.

Beckham wouldn’t confirm Monday that his celebration after Sunday’s game-winner was a playful jab at the expense of outfielder Adam Eaton, who recently said he’s the straw that stirs the White Sox lineup.

Eaton, as well as a multitude of players wearing t-shirts featuring the leadoff man’s quote, have corroborated just what everyone was doing on the field after Beckham’s two-out, RBI single off Aroldis Chapman lifted the White Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. As he rounded first base and teammates raced in his direction, Beckham clasped his hands together and made a circular motion as if he were churning butter.

“We’re just messing around and having some fun,” Beckham said. “I mean, it’s always fun to win games and it’s definitely fun to win like that. I haven’t had that feeling in like six years so that was a lot of fun for me. It was good, a good day.”

[MORE: White Sox ink Felipe Paulino to minor-league deal]

Eaton doesn’t seem to mind the playful swipe.

After all, he was the first one to greet Beckham -- whose RBI single gave the White Sox their fourth victory in six tries -- and mocked the motion as well. And Eaton already has exacted some revenge on Beckham (suggesting perhaps he created the highlighter-yellow T-shirts), posting throughout the clubhouse a grainy picture of the utility man from his youth.

“That’s the showing of a good team,” Eaton said. “I was fortunate to be on a couple of championship clubs in the minor leagues and that’s what you have in the clubhouse, just fun going and guys giving each other a hard time, T-shirts that make no sense, and pictures of guys when they were in their teens.

“It’s fun loving and like I said, a club that can laugh together usually will win.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

White Sox manager Robin Ventura appreciates the gag. Formerly a prankster in his own right (ask him about that John Olerud/Rickey Henderson story sometime), Ventura wants his players to stay loose as they attempt to dig out of the hole they created for themselves on their previous road trip.

“Teams always come up something,” Ventura said. “I’m out of that business. I just stay away from it. I want them to have fun so that’s one way for them to have fun. It could get dirty, but it’s been fun for them. Let them have as much fun as they can while also realizing what’s going on in the game.”

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.