White Sox

White Sox mourn death of Yankees icon Yogi Berra

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White Sox mourn death of Yankees icon Yogi Berra

DETROIT -- David Robertson had hoped to visit with Yogi Berra this weekend during a four-game visit to Yankee Stadium.

Instead, the White Sox closer will be on hand to mourn Berra’s passing after the Yankees legend died at age 90 on Tuesday. Robertson said he received a phone call learning of Berra’s death early Wednesday morning. Robertson, who played his first six seasons in New York, said Berra was a constant presence in the clubhouse.

“He’s one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet, one of the nicest, most respectful,” Robertson said. “He was exactly what the Yankees as an organization wanted their players to be like. “You can’t say enough about him, he’s just going to be missed.”

Robin Ventura played two seasons in New York and remembers how Berra was the genuine article not to mention an impressive ballplayer. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, Berra won 10 World Series rings, was a 15-time All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player. He also led the Yankees and New York Mets to the World Series as a manager. But it’s how Berra interacted with people that will stick with Ventura.

[REMEMBERING YOGI: A man greater than his legend]

“As soon as you start thinking about him, you smile,” Ventura said. “Just getting to talk to him was always fun. He lit up a room when he came in there, would walk around and talk to everybody. Just a beautiful person all the way around. His numbers are incredible when you really look at him. But his presence and how he dealt with people was really the biggest thing. He made a lot of people smile.

“He enjoyed people. He enjoyed having fun and laughing as well. He wasn’t trying to be that way. That was just what came out. Truly an icon of our game.”

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper got the chance to pitch for Berra in one of his final games as the Yankees manager. A native of New York, Cooper was excited to pitch for one of the franchise’s icons and hoped it meant a new lease on life for his career. Two days later (April 29, 1985), the Yankees fired Berra and rehired Billy Martin.

“He brought me in the game in the 10th inning in Chicago and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s giving me a chance,’ ” Cooper said. “I never really thought I had the opportunity I was dreaming about. I thought maybe it happened.

“At the end of that series, he got fired. … Just a wonderful man. Baseball’s loss and friends, family. It’s just a loss, just sad.”

“I haven’t heard ever one word from anybody that was derogatory toward him. He was loved by everyone.”

[REMEMBERING YOGI: Some of the best Yogi-isms]

Said Robertson: “He was never trying to put on a show. That was just Yogi. He was a funny guy who knew how to play the game the right way and had success doing it. I think he ended up having 10 rings. I know he’d always joke about that saying to Derek (Jeter) -- ‘How many do you have? We’ll I’ve got 10.’ He wasn’t being cocky about it. He was just letting you know ‘I was good.’

“He was a true legend of the game and he’s going to be missed.”

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.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

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.”