White Sox

White Sox: Jason Benetti gives fans new voice to root for and follow


White Sox: Jason Benetti gives fans new voice to root for and follow

New White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti and Cerebral Palsy Foundation CEO Richard Ellenson were scheduled to meet for lunch to go over how Benetti, who has cerebral palsy, can help his foundation. 

What was thought to be a quick chat between the two turned into a meal the two would never forget. 

"We both put aside about 45 minutes and left two hours later," Ellenson said laughing. "It was a real meeting of the minds."

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

This lunch goes to show the type of person the Sox and their fans can expect from their new announcer. It's nearly impossible to find anyone that can claim a flaw in Benetti's character or announcing. 

Cubs play-by-play announcer Len Kasper called the Sox decision to hire Benetti "totally right." Legendary announcer Hawk Harrelson, who Benetti will be replacing for almost all of the Sox home games this year, thinks he can be "a hell of a good announcer."

Ellenson saw "rock star" potential immediately after their breakfast meeting and Benetti became a popular figure for Ellenson's "Just Say Hi" campaign. 

"He wrote a script that meshed with who I am or who I perceive myself to be so well," Benetti said about the video. "It has a little snark, it has a little humor, it’s fun and I just love being around somebody like that who is so driven to help through the power of creativity."

Ellenson says when he plays Benetti's spot at benefits he gets more laughter from the audience than anyone else. That's especially impressive considering other videos shown included Yankees manager Joe Girardi, chef Mario Batali and actor William H. Macy. 

"The look that he gives at the end of that spot," Ellenson said. "That kind of giggle is what makes him such a great sportscaster. To know not only how to deliver the line with a voice but to take it to that great place, to lead you not only to the action but to the emotion of the moment That's why he's so good."

[MORE: Three White Sox with most to prove in 2016]

While Benetti has watched his dream of calling games for his childhood team come true, he's remained humble throughout the process. Over the years, he's received letters from parents of kids with cerebral palsy, asking him to write or visit their child (which he does). Benetti admitted cerebral palsy is "a small part of who he is" but he wants to give kids a glimmer of hope like others have done to him as he was growing up.

"When I grew up, I didn’t have somebody with CP," Benetti said. "Walter White’s son on Breaking Bad, RJ Mitte the actor, has CP and he’s very open about it and I think that is truly amazing that there is somebody out there. So I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a role model, quote-unquote, like that so for me it’s more of letting people know that if you have a bad day, whether it’s with a disability or whatever it may be, the option of getting better at whatever you do is there and it will always be there."

The bond between fan and announcer runs deep, as White Sox fans know with their relationship with Harrelson. In Ellenson's eyes, Benetti's best traits, his youthfulness, hard-working attitude and ability to gain the listeners' trust, make him someone that Sox fans will want to follow. 

"Fans connect to their team through the voice of their announcer," Ellenson said. "When you think about that relationship, you need someone who has both the confidence to describe a game for you and to take you through the emotions of the game but also the humility to understand the story really isn't theirs. Jason has that extraordinary mixture of supreme confidence and humility.

"He knows who he is. He's comfortable with it. He's not going to give you anything but who he is." 

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


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?


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.”