Aaron Bummer

Different feeling in White Sox clubhouse after positive update on Danny Farquhar: 'Something like this really lifts the spirits up'

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AP

Different feeling in White Sox clubhouse after positive update on Danny Farquhar: 'Something like this really lifts the spirits up'

The past couple days were a scary waiting game for the White Sox.

They watched as their teammate was carried out of the dugout and taken to the hospital during Friday night’s game. Before Saturday’s game, they learned he suffered a brain hemorrhage. “Stable but critical” was the update, and they were worried.

But positive news on Danny Farquhar came Monday afternoon, and guys stood at their lockers invigorated by an update that said their teammate was “progressing well.”

“When it happened, we all had that gut feeling in our stomachs, like, ‘What is going on?’ And then some info started coming in, and we were very concerned and worried about his health and his family, especially,” fellow reliever Nate Jones said Monday. “But to get something like this really lifts the spirits up for sure.”

“Over the last 24 hours there’s been a lot of good news,” pitcher James Shields said. “Obviously he’s not out of the water yet, but I think the good news is definitely needed for him and his family. I’m happy that things are going smooth so far.”

Monday’s update included the news that Saturday surgery was successful and that Farquhar was moving his extremities and talking with doctors and his family. His condition was still described as stable but critical, however, and his teammates know he’s not just going to walk back into the clubhouse tomorrow.

He’s been in their thoughts and the thoughts of plenty of other major league players and teams. The White Sox had his jersey hanging in the bullpen during their games Saturday and Sunday. The Tampa Bay Rays had Farquhar’s jersey hanging in their dugout in St. Petersburg over the weekend. The Seattle Mariners, who arrived on the South Side for a three-game set starting Monday, immediately hung Farquhar’s jersey in their dugout. And teams sent good wishes on social media throughout the weekend.

“We have his jersey out there hanging in the bullpen with us because we want to not completely black it out because it actually did happen and he’s one of our brothers. And we want to remember that and try to represent that the best that we can,” Jones said. “You always think about it, it’s always there, but when it’s time to do your job, you try not to think about it and do the best for him.”

“I’ve had text messages from across the league paying their condolences to the family,” Shields said. “Baseball in general is a family. Whether you know somebody or not, you feel for him. We have a brotherhood here. We’re just really supporting him and his family right now. Around the league, that’s great.”

The well wishes and the thoughts and the prayers are still constantly flowing Farquhar’s way from the White Sox clubhouse and clubhouses all over the game. And as part of that, his teammates are also eager to talk about what kind of guy Farquhar is. Monday, they revealed that Farquhar is a fountain of information out in the bullpen. Quizzes seem to be lobbed daily in the direction of the guy they call “Google” and “Statcast.”

“He’s always smiling, laughing, he’s always joking around. We call him ‘Google,’” bullpen-mate Aaron Bummer said. “He’s full of knowledge, man. If we ever need anything, anything about pitching, he does a lot of that analytics stuff. He’s awesome, man. He’s a good resource for everyone, he’s a great resource for me as a rookie and all the young guys. We miss him a lot and wish him well.”

“He knows a lot about everything,” Jones said. “He’s what we would call a ‘stat rat.’ We call him Google, we call him Statcast. He knows a lot, and it’s intriguing. Keeps us loose out in the bullpen, that’s for sure. … Every day we have something for him, talking about spin rates and all that good stuff. We’ve had fun with him.”

That’s been a constant refrain over the past few days, that Farquhar, who’s made a long journey throughout the major and minor leagues to reach this point of a seven-year big league veteran, is a great guy, a funny guy and a joy to be around for his teammates.

So it’s understandable that they want to see him as soon as they can.

“We sent him some texts, telling him that we’re wishing him well, we’re praying for him and our thoughts are with him. I think that at this point in time, that’s pretty much the extend of what we’re able to do,” Bummer said. “Once he kind of progresses a little bit more, I’m sure guys in the clubhouse are going to get over and go see him, but as of right now we’re still respecting the privacy and listening to what the doctors say and praying for the best.”

“Hopefully soon. No one really knows, but we know that he’s got a long road to go,” Jones said. “We’re just praying that it’s soon.”

Bullpen meltdown in home opener begs the question: Will there be more days like this for White Sox?

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AP

Bullpen meltdown in home opener begs the question: Will there be more days like this for White Sox?

The White Sox aren’t going to lose every game this way.

The defeat at the hands of the visiting Detroit Tigers in Thursday’s home opener was particularly gut-wrenching, the White Sox holding a four-run lead entering the eighth inning only for Nate Jones and Joakim Soria to cough that lead up over two innings. The Tigers plated two more in the 10th to send the South Siders to a brutal loss in their first home game of the campaign.

They won’t all go that way, but should White Sox fans be prepared for more outcomes like this in 2018?

Remember, this is a team not expected to contend for a championship this season, a team that prepared itself and its fans for a developmental year at all levels of the organization, including the major league level. Things went just fine in that department Thursday, with Matt Davidson, Tim Anderson and Yolmer Sanchez all having big days and continuing the hot starts to their “prove it” seasons.

But the other half of that equation is, perhaps, a good deal of losing. And that’s where a reconstructed bullpen comes in, at least that’s where it came in Thursday, White Sox relievers tagged for six runs over the game’s final three innings. It’s twice now in this 3-3 season that the bullpen has been to blame for a defeat. Danny Farquhar gave up a lead in Toronto earlier this week. (For what it’s worth, Farquhar was great Thursday, striking out three of the four batters he faced.)

We’re just a week into this season, and jumping to season-long conclusions from anything we’ve seen so far is a futile enterprise. But after Rick Hahn’s front office traded away most of the relief corps last summer, the bullpen was a question mark coming into 2018. Looking for the next flippable asset, the White Sox acquired Soria and Luis Avilan this offseason. Soria converted each of his first two save opportunities. Thursday, he gave up four hits and three runs.

“You have to be able to make adjustments and still perform. I didn’t do it today,” Soria said. “We lost the game, and that’s what’s important.

“You have to move on and go for the next outing. Try to come back the next day and try to do your best like I did. Every time I take the mound, I try to do the best I can to help this team win. Today, unfortunately, I had a little bad luck.

“It is hard to lose a lead, a three-run lead, but you have to let it go. If you don’t adjust in this game, you are not going to last long.”

Soria has the blessing of experience, and perhaps that will help him make this anomaly rather than the beginning of a trend. And it’s perfectly reasonable to expect both Jones and Soria to bounce back nicely. After all, Jones was lights out in his first two appearances of the season and Soria had two scoreless outings under his belt, too.

“Listen, you’re going to have games like that. We’re going to have games that we end up coming out on top on the other end,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Jonesy and Joakim, I'm confident they're going to have better days than this. They’ve shown us what they’re capable of doing. Today, this one just got away.”

But fans have already decided where to direct their ire. The bullpen is already a hot-button issue just six games into a 162-game season. And while Jones and Soria, two veteran relievers with the most difficult jobs in that bullpen, are capable of flushing Thursday and coming back strong, they aren’t the only ones who have had bad days in this young season.

Gregory Infante, who took the extra-inning loss Thursday, has allowed seven runs in 1.2 innings. Juan Minaya gave up two in his one inning of work. Hector Santiago and Soria have each allowed three runs on the season. Luis Avilan and Farquhar have each given up two. The only White Sox reliever without a run to their name this season — which is just six games old — is Aaron Bummer.

All in all, White Sox relievers have an 8.55 ERA on the 2018 season, the second-worst in baseball as of this writing.

The White Sox won’t lose every game this way. But in a season that’s expected to end with its fair share of losses, maybe this is a sort of sign of things to come.

White Sox set Opening Day roster

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USA TODAY

White Sox set Opening Day roster

The White Sox roster is set for Opening Day.

There weren't any surprises, but we now officially have the 25 men who will begin the season as the White Sox major league club.

The South Siders are carrying 13 pitchers, with an expected rotation of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer. The bullpen features Luis Avilan, Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Juan Minaya, Hector Santiago and Joakim Soria.

Santiago, who was signed to a minor league deal at the outset of spring training, had his contract officially purchased Wednesday afternoon. He's expected to be the long man and the first option should the White Sox need to fill a hole in the rotation.

As for who will be the closer, Rick Renteria said Wednesday that he has several guys that can do it and that there won't be one set guy with that role. He more extensively talked about Soria and Jones but mentioned Minaya and Infante, as well, among others.

The final unresolved position battle of camp was who was going to backup Welington Castillo at catcher, but that decision was made for Renteria and the White Sox, who put Kevan Smith on the disabled list Wednesday. That means backup backstop duties go to Omar Narvaez.

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Matt Davidson, Yoan Moncada, Tyler Saladino and Yolmer Sanchez are listed as the team's infielders, while Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia are listed as outfielders. Leury Garcia is somewhat interestingly grouped with the outfielders despite his ability to play all over the field.

In another roster move, the White Sox officially placed Carlos Rodon on the disabled list. He's recovering from shoulder surgery that brought his 2017 season to an early end. His return date remains unknown, though the White Sox were happy with his progress at last update.