White Sox

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Los Angeles Angels?

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USA TODAY

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Los Angeles Angels?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Los Angeles Angels?

A lot, actually.

But there’s only one thing we really want to know: Are we ever going to see Mike Trout in the playoffs again? You shouldn’t feel bad if you blinked and missed the best player in baseball’s lone postseason appearance, three losses to the Kansas City Royals in 2014. This guy’s been the face of the game, and he’s got only 12 more postseason at-bats than I do.

That’s a shame, of course, and the Halos have done quite a bit to try to change that this offseason. And they very well might. The new additions in Anaheim have provided plenty of interest, but will that translate to wins? Time to find out.

Obviously, Trout won’t even be the most paid-attention-to Angel come Opening Day, when we finally get to see if Shohei Ohtani lives up to the hype. Baseball had their own version of that reality show that everyone loves so much — Something to do with roses, I think? Is it a show about gardening? America’s Next Top Gardener! Nailed it. — with teams courting the talents of the two-way Japanese superstar. Ohtani is projected to slot into the No. 2 spot in the Angels’ rotation and play regularly as a designated hitter.

That seems like a lot to ask of a 23-year-old who’s never seen major league pitching or faced major league hitting, a lot of pressure on the guy instantaneously crowned baseball’s top prospect.

What Ohtani will do is a complete mystery — but that’s kind of the case for the Angels’ entire rotation. These guys should at least be well rested considering they’ve logged hardly any big league innings over the past two seasons. Seriously, look at the number of starts the Angels’ projected starting staff made last year:

— Garrett Richards: six (after just six in 2016)
— Shohei Ohtani: zero (no career MLB appearances)
— Matt Shoemaker: 14
— Andrew Heaney: five (after just one in 2016)
— J.C. Ramirez: 24 (the first 24 starts of his four-year big league career)
— Tyler Skaggs: 16 (after just 10 in 2016 and zero in 2015)

So that adds up to 65 from six pitchers. Add up the combined 2017 regular-season and postseason starts by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, the co-aces for the division-rival Houston Astros, and it’s 66. These Angels pitchers need to stay on the field.

But while that might not sound too promising, the Halos made some typical Halo-style additions, getting a bunch of All Stars on the other side of 30 to try and get Trout — still one of their youngest position players, despite being in the league for seven years — to the playoffs. Justin Upton, acquired in a trade last season with the Detroit Tigers, and Zack Cozart, signed as a free agent this offseason, are both coming off awesome seasons. Upton posted career highs in homers, RBIs and doubles and nearly had career highs in plenty of other categories. Zack Cozart was one of the National League’s best hitters last season, finishing 11th in on-base percentage and OPS. Ian Kinsler? Not coming off a good season. He was statistically bad for the bad-in-every-way Detroit Tigers, but he’s only two years removed from a .831 OPS and 28 homers in 2016, so who knows.

Will it all pay off? Will those moves make the Angels any better? Will it really matter all that much in an AL not exactly bursting with playoff contenders?

All I know is this: America is clamoring for its favorite baseball icon to return to the postseason. We need it. Nothing would make us more happy than to see a symbol of the game, why we watch the game, on the game’s grandest stage. So do it, Angels. Get the Rally Monkey back to October.

What, you thought I was talking about Trout?

2017 record: 80-82, second place in AL West

Offseason additions: Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, Rene Rivera, Chris Young, Jim Johnson, Luke Bard

Offseason departures: Cliff Pennington, Ben Revere, Jesse Chavez, Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, Fernando Salas, Huston Street

X-factor: Former Cubs reliever Blake Parker was excellent for the Angels last season, making 71 appearances and finishing with a 2.54 ERA. But for X-factor, let's go with heretofore unmentioned Andrelton Simmons, who was very good in 2017, perhaps the Angels' best non-Trout player. He plays great defense at shortstop, baseball's leader in defensive runs saved last season. He also slashed a very respectable .278/.331/.421 with 14 dingers and a career-best 19 steals. And all-around impact player to say the least.

Projected lineup:

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Albert Pujols, DH
5. Kole Calhoun, RF
6. Zack Cozart, 3B
7. Luis Valbuena, 1B
8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Martin Maldonado, C

Projected rotation:

1. Garrett Richards
2. Shohei Ohtani
3. Matt Shoemaker
4. Andrew Heaney
5. J.C. Ramirez
6. Tyler Skaggs

Prediction: Second place in AL West, AL wild card

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
Washington Nationals
Pittsburgh Pirates

After Astros cruised past White Sox, Justin Verlander wasn't at all happy with Tim Anderson

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USA TODAY

After Astros cruised past White Sox, Justin Verlander wasn't at all happy with Tim Anderson

The Houston Astros put a pretty good beating on the White Sox on Friday night, waltzing to a blowout 10-0 victory.

So why was the Astros’ starting pitcher so steamed after the game?

Justin Verlander, the future Hall of Famer who took a no-hit bid into the fifth Friday, was vocally upset with Tim Anderson, the White Sox shortstop who has been playing with a totally different attitude this season after his on-field struggles last season and the emotional effects he experienced while dealing with the death of his best friend.

Verlander lost his no-hitter on Anderson’s one-out base hit in the fifth inning, to which Anderson, whose mission this season is to have fun playing baseball, celebrated. But that celebration wasn’t what peeved Verlander. Instead it was Anderson’s attempt at stealing second base on a 3-0 count — and the subsequent celebration when the steal didn't count because of a walk — and his attempt at stealing third base shortly thereafter. That play went haywire, as Anderson was picked off, caught in a rundown, safely made it back to second but just as Omar Narvaez was arriving, making an out. The two exchanged words on the field after that play.

But remember that that’s another one of Anderson’s missions this year: to steal more bases and get in opposing pitchers’ heads with what he's doing on the base paths.

Well, he sure got Verlander’s attention this time.

"I wasn’t upset with him being excited about getting a hit," Verlander told reporters after the game. "Hey, that’s baseball and you can be excited about getting a hit, he earned it. He steals on 3-0 in a 5-0 game, that’s probably not great baseball. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. But he celebrated that, though. And it’s like ‘Hey, I’m not worried about you right now. It’s 5-0, I’m giving a high leg kick, I know you can steal. If I don’t want you to steal, I’ll be a little bit more aware of you. But I’m trying to get this guy out at the plate.'

"Anyway, I walk (Narvaez), (Anderson) steals 3-0, kind of celebrates that at second base again. I don’t even know what he was celebrating, he didn’t even get credit for a stolen base. Maybe he thought he did, I don’t know.

"Then he makes, in my opinion, another bad baseball decision. Stealing third in a 5-0 game with two guys on in an inning where I was clearly struggling — I walked a guy on four pitches and went 1-0 to the next guy — and I pick you off on an inside move after the way he had kind of been jubilant about some other things, I was just as jubilant about that. Very thankful that he gave me an out. That’s what I said, and he didn’t like that comment but, hey, that’s not my fault, that’s his fault.

"I’m not going to let the situation dictate what I do out there, I’m going to slow everything down and that’s what veterans can do — see the game, play the game, play the game the right way. He was a little over-agressive and I let him know it. I took offense to it."

Why all this angered the Astros’ ace so much in the fifth inning of a 5-0 ballgame, that could be trickier to figure out. It sounds like another case of the “unwritten rules” of the game. But not being written down anywhere, it’s hard exactly to tell which rule or rules Anderson broke.

Told after the game that Verlander wasn’t very happy with him, Anderson didn’t seem to be too concerned about being on the wrong side of the all-time great hurler.

“That’s fine,” he said. “If that’s how I play, I’m having fun and it’s exciting.

“I don’t care what other people think, that don’t bother me.

“I’m out just playing and having fun. If he took it to heart, so what?”

If anything, it’s a sign that Anderson’s activity on the base paths could be working as intended, distracting opposing pitchers from what they’re trying to do to Anderson’s teammates at the plate.

But with the results what they were, it seems even more odd that Verlander would be so upset.

Whatever the reasoning, Anderson doesn’t care, so maybe we shouldn’t, either.

“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Anderson said before having a little fun with reporters who had him repeating his lack of concern. “Does it bother you?”

After passing out in White Sox dugout, pitcher Danny Farquhar taken to hospital during Friday's game

After passing out in White Sox dugout, pitcher Danny Farquhar taken to hospital during Friday's game

What happened on the field was of little importance by the time Friday night’s game wrapped up at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Thoughts were with White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar, who was carried out of the third-base dugout in the sixth inning and taken to the hospital.

Farquhar relieved James Shields in the top of the inning and pitched to four batters before heading to the dugout when it was his team’s turn to bat. During the bottom of the sixth, Farquhar passed out. A crowd gathered around him, and television replays showed him being carried out of the dugout by the team’s medical personnel and EMTs.

The White Sox announced a couple innings later that Farquhar was conscious and was undergoing further treatment and testing at the hospital.

"It takes your breath away a little bit. One of your guys is down there and you have no idea what’s going on," manager Rick Renteria said after the game. "I think everybody was allowing the people to take care of him take care of him. Everybody else just surrounded him to make sure they had the space to do what they needed to do. But I guess it’s the same with anybody when something happens to any individual you know, you want things to be done as quickly as possible. He was treated as quickly as we could. They had him there. They were taking care of him. They didn’t skip a beat"

"That was pretty scary, to be honest with you," Shields said. "I don't really know the full extent of the situation, to be honest with you. I do know he wasn't conscious when he left here. But from what I hearing right now, he's responding to questions and they're doing some further tests right now. So we're all praying for him."

"It’s really scary, man," pitcher Aaron Bummer said. "He’s in our thoughts and prayers. Hopefully everything is OK. We have a lot of questions and not many answers. But we can hope for the best and hope that he’s back with us tomorrow."

The 31-year-old Florida native is in his seventh season as a major leaguer and his second with the White Sox. They picked him up after he pitched in 37 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He pitched 14.1 for the South Siders last year and logged eight innings in 2018, including the 0.2 innings he threw Friday night.