White Sox

Why Rick Renteria would be OK with bringing back current, young White Sox catchers

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USA TODAY

Why Rick Renteria would be OK with bringing back current, young White Sox catchers

CLEVELAND -- His young catchers have made enough gains this season with game calling that Rick Renteria isn’t sure if he’d want to add a veteran backstop for 2018.

The White Sox intended for veteran Geovany Soto to be their primary catcher this season with Omar Narvaez serving as his backup. Consecutive elbow injuries for Soto wiped those plans out early in the season and forced the White Sox to employ Narvaez and rookie Kevan Smith, who collectively had almost no big-league experience. But after nearly a full season of learning the league, Renteria said he’s on board if the White Sox decide to bring back Smith and Narvaez again in 2018.

“I would not be uncomfortable taking these same two guys again in the coming year and allow them to continue to grow with those guys that we have because they’ve actually gained some ground in understand what they’re doing,” Renteria said. “Might as well not waste this thing that we’ve been able to gain because of what’s occurred over this season.”

Narvaez entered the season with 34 career games played, including 30 starts. Smith had six games behind the plate with three starts. The loss of Soto to elbow surgery in May put the White Sox in a difficult spot.

“It’s very tough because we play 162 games and these guys have to learn,” bullpen catcher Mark Salas said. “Granted, we play them three in a row, maybe four, and you try to learn the guys. But it’s easier with the Central guys because we play them so much. But Anaheim, we haven’t played them in three months and it’s a process going over them again and getting the feel, seeing what they’ve got and go with that.”

The process has many facets for the young catchers to decipher.

Smith and Narvaez must be totally familiar with their own pitchers and their strengths and weaknesses. Then comes preparation for each opposing hitter and knowing their strengths and weaknesses. The catchers, pitching coach Don Cooper and the pitchers then overlay the two sides to provide a rough game plan. But even then, other factors must be considered, including how that day’s pitcher is throwing.

Smith mentioned that one advantage of game-calling in the majors versus the minors is the consistency of the lineup.

“When you start seeing these teams over and over it’s not like the minor leagues where it might be a new team the next time you face them just because of callups or guys getting sent down,” Smith said. “You can kind of start predetermining a game plan with the guys you’re going to catch against that series and kind of seeing how those guys strengths match up against (hitters) weaknesses. It just puts your mind at ease a little bit and lets you go out and play and kind of slows the game down for you.”

A season’s worth of learning has considerably helped both Narvaez and Smith. Soto has aided the process when he could, specifically being available on the bench at the majority of the team’s home games for counsel. James Shields and Mike Pelfrey have also offered the input only a veteran pitcher can supply.

Salas is hopeful that next season Cooper would feel comfortable enough to allow either catcher to lead a pregame meeting as the White Sox discuss their strategy. Given how Renteria feels, it wouldn’t be a surprise.

“What these two have done over the last three-and-a-half, four months is actually on-the-job training,” Renteria said. “The biggest thing is how they’re going to be able to take a young staff in certain situations and get better and understand how to make adjustments.

“That’s been a huge gain for us.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: 'Searching for a safe space in Cubslandia'

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 'Searching for a safe space in Cubslandia'

With the Cubs back in the NLCS, White Sox fans have had to deal with another post-season of Cubs this and Cubs that. How does one escape it? Diehard White Sox fan John Kass of the Chicago Tribune comes on the podcast to talk with Chuck Garfien about his recent column entitled "Searching for a safe space in Cubslandia." Kass talks about how he's dealing with the Cubs success and how White Sox fans can find this safe space. He tells the story about taking the White Sox World Series trophy into a Chicago Tribune board meeting in 2005 to rub it in the faces of the Trib's executives who were all Cubs fans.  

Kass talks about how he watches the Cubs in the playoffs, the Chicago media coverage of their playoff run and how Cubs fans will react if they don't repeat as champions. Garfien and Kass also discuss the White Sox rebuild, the Cubs losing in 2003 and why Kass will be calling Cubs Pre and Post host David Kaplan in the middle of the night if and when the Cubs are eliminated.  

White Sox mourn passing of former pitcher Daniel Webb

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USA TODAY

White Sox mourn passing of former pitcher Daniel Webb

Former White Sox pitcher Daniel Webb died at the age of 28 in an ATV accident on Saturday night, according to Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis.

Davis called it a “tragic accident, and we should rally around the family.”

Webb, a Paducah, Ky. native, was with the White Sox from 2013-16 and went 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA.

The White Sox released this statement:

Daniel left many friends within the Chicago White Sox organization, and we are all shocked and stunned by the news of last night's terrible accident. He was a terrific young man with a full life ahead of him. All thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends as they deal with today's tragic news.