White Sox

White Sox rookie Trayce Thompson's elbow ready for action

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White Sox rookie Trayce Thompson's elbow ready for action

CLEVELAND -- The left elbow has improved and though his wrist is still sore it’s not enough to keep Trayce Thompson out of the lineup.

The rookie returned to the White Sox lineup and hit fifth on Friday evening after he had missed the previous three games with a hyperextended elbow. Thompson injured both his elbow and wrist while diving for a ball in Monday’s 14-inning victory over the Oakland A’s.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu adjusts to avoid a sophomore slump]

A late scratch from Wednesday’s game, Thompson, who had a .377/.424/.689 slash line with four home runs in his first 66 plate appearances, wouldn’t be denied a second start even though he wore a tight-fitting glove on his left hand that sends electric currents into the wrist before the game.

“My wrist is a little sore but it’s just my bone,” Thompson said. “It’s just my wrist. With my elbow it could be a ligament or something so I can play through (the wrist) and I’ll be fine, I’ll have some adrenaline during the game. I played football growing up so I know what it’s like to play through stuff and it’s going to take a lot more to stop me from playing this game. I’m already not playing every day as it is so for me to not be able to medically play, it’s been killing me the last few days. I’m excited to get out there and be available.”

Whereas Thompson had trouble bending his elbow earlier in the week, he declared himself fit for action after he hit off a tee prior to Friday’s game. Thompson still wore a protective sleeve on his elbow but has much more flexibility only a few days after he feared the worst diving for a Brett Lawrie fly ball. Two days after he saw enough evidence to sit Thompson, White Sox manager Robin Ventura sounded convinced Friday’s left fielder is fine.

“He has declared himself well enough to play, but more than that, he’s declared himself healthy,” Ventura said. “That’s the biggest thing. We just didn’t want to rush him back in there if he didn’t feel he could do everything mechanically normal and not feel like he was protecting anything. That’s the biggest thing.”

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Thompson initially felt like he dodged a bullet with the injury as he feared much worse damage. Even though the glove on his wrist was shocking him -- “it’s not too bad,” he said -- Thompson is encouraged by his progress.

“My elbow feels great,” Thompson said. “That’s really exciting because the last few days has kind of felt, I couldn’t really extend it because I’d always want to kind of keep it bended or something. But I took some swings off the tee and I feel great.”

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.