White Sox

Just how good is Ryan Cordell? Rick Hahn says three teams have called about the White Sox outfield prospect

Just how good is Ryan Cordell? Rick Hahn says three teams have called about the White Sox outfield prospect

While South Side baseball fans are having endless fun projecting and debating the White Sox lineup of the future, here's someone you might not have been thinking about.

Ryan Cordell, the outfielder acquired in last summer's trade that sent Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers, is not a frequent part of those projections. Avisail Garcia, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and even guys like Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo are generally the names discussed when trying to map out the outfield in a few years' time.

But general manager Rick Hahn shared an interesting tidbit during a Friday-night SoxFest seminar at the Hilton Chicago when asked about how his team's outfield will shake out this season, saying that three teams have called about Cordell since the White Sox acquired him last summer.

Now, that sparks one big question to go along with several smaller ones: Just how good is Cordell?

Again, he's not one of the more talked-about young players in this rebuilding effort, and the trade that brought him to the White Sox was an under-the-radar one, especially considering Cordell was injured when he was acquired last season, recovering from a fractured vertebra. Cordell played 68 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs before the injury, slashing .284/.349/.506 with 10 homers, 18 doubles and 45 RBIs.

The long-term question is whether Cordell is good enough to challenge all those guys mentioned above for a spot in the White Sox crowded outfield of the future. The short-term question, as it seems Hahn raised the possibility, is whether Cordell is good enough to make an impact at the big league level in 2018 — and could he do that right away?

The outfield would figure to look something like this when the season begins: Avisail Garcia in right, Leury Garcia in center and Nicky Delmonico in left. But when asked by a fan what the outfield will look like, Hahn mentioned Cordell as well as Charlie Tilson as guys who could be in the mix. That broad inclusion was likely intentional to show no decisions have been made before spring training begins next month in Arizona, and with the team not expected to contend for a championship in 2018, why not give plenty of guys an opportunity?

But Hahn said that both Cordell and Tilson are without restrictions — Tilson has had more than his fair share of injury woes since joining the White Sox in the 2016 trade that sent Zack Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals — perhaps indicating that they should be considered worthy challengers for those starting spots in left and center field.

And center field is a position of offensive need for the 2018 edition of the White Sox. Adam Engel, who will also surely be in the mix this spring, was terrific defensively but struggled at the plate. Leury Garcia was OK when healthy, though that was only for about half the season — not to mention that his versatility could be used to spell infielders, as well. All in all, White Sox center fielders were offensively the worst in the American League, slashing .221/.284/.351 on the 2017 season. They ranked last in batting average and on-base percentage and second to last in slugging percentage.

The note on Cordell drawing trade interest certainly raised eyebrows, both in the room and on social media, with fans and observers perhaps sensing a dark horse candidate to provide some offense to that center-field position.

So just how good is this guy? Will he be in the starting outfield in 2018? Will he be in the starting outfield after the likes of Jimenez and Robert crack the big leagues?

That all remains to be seen, though answers will start to come when spring training gets going.

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.