White Sox

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?

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USA TODAY

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Tampa Bay Rays?

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 Tampa Bay Rays?

Well, remember all the players on the Rays that you know? Bad news. They aren’t on the Rays anymore.

That’s not entirely true, I suppose, as Chris Archer is still on the Rays. But he’s got to be looking around the home clubhouse at the Trop these days and wondering, “Where’d everybody go?”

Perhaps trying to emulate the other fish-based Florida franchise, the Rays traded away a bunch of players this offseason, making this roster — one that somehow managed to finish third in the American League East last season — unrecognizable.

Evan Longoria, perhaps the best player in this young franchise’s history, was traded to the San Francisco Giants. Jake Odorizzi was traded to the Minnesota Twins. Corey Dickerson was DFA’d, then traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Steve Souza was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. And look at this lengthy list of guys who were lost to free agency: Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter and Steve Cishek.

Can someone go check and make sure the rays in that tank in center field didn’t get traded, too?

So who’s left from this offseason purge? Well, there’s Archer, who despite being an awesome face for the game has finished with an ERA north of 4.00 in each of the last two seasons. He’s still really good, at this point almost a lock for 200 innings and way more than 200 strikeouts. But who’s going to help him out?

The additions of 34-year-old Denard Span and 32-year-old Carlos Gomez were … odd. There are two former White Sox in the mix in Micah Johnson, who’s been on like 17 teams since November, and Daniel Hudson, who the Rays got back for Dickerson. Matt Duffy didn’t play at all last season. Kevin Kiermaier only played in 98 games last year but was quite good, having the best offensive season of his career. After an All-Star season for the Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos missed most of last season, his first with the Rays.

The best player on the team, or at least the one with the best 2017 campaign, is closer Alex Colome, the pitcher whose name begins “Alex Co” that the Rays still employ. He led baseball with 47 saves last year, and that’s on a team that won only 80 games. Mighty impressive. He’s got 84 saves in the last two seasons combined.

That doesn't mean there's not help on the way. Much like White Sox fans, Rays fans can salivate over a potentially promising future. The organization boasts three of the top 25 prospects in baseball: pitcher Brent Honeywell (No. 18), infielder Willy Adames (No. 22) and "first baseman/pitcher" — that sounds fun — Brendan McKay (No. 25). And they have two more guys in the top 100, including shortstop Christian Arroyo, the big piece coming back in that Longoria deal with the Giants. So the future is perhaps as bright as that sunburst in the Rays' logo.

In the end, though, it ain’t shaping up to be a good year in St. Pete, and the catwalk-filled baseball warehouse has only a little to do with that. The post Joe Maddon/Andrew Friedman Era hasn’t gone too well. Meanwhile, Maddon's won a World Series with the Cubs, and Friedman's been to one with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Any other wacky managers and baseball geniuses out there?

2017 record: 80-82, third place in AL East

Offseason additions: Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, C.J. Cron, Micah Johnson, Joey Wendle, Daniel Hudson

Offseason departures: Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, Corey Dickerson, Steve Souza, Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek

X-factor: He's not the X-factor, but it's worth pointing out that the Rays do have a player named "Mallex," which sounds like the name of a bad guy in a superhero movie. While Archer looks real lonely on that starting staff, there's some interesting guys around him. Somewhat strangely, the Rays are going to employ a four-man rotation. The X-factor of the bunch is Jake Faria, who in his first big league season last year turned in a 3.43 ERA in 16 games, 14 of which were starts. He struck out 84 batters in 86.2 innings. Past Archer and Faria, you've got Blake Snell, who struck out 119 guys in 129.1 innings, and Nathan Eovaldi, the one-time New York Yankee who missed all of last season.

Projected lineup:

1. Denard Span, DH
2. Matt Duffy, 3B
3. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
4. Carlos Gomez, RF
5. Brad Miller, 2B
6. Wilson Ramos, C
7. C.J. Cron, 1B
8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
9. Mallex Smith, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Chris Archer
2. Blake Snell
3. Nathan Eovaldi
4. Jake Faria

Prediction: Fifth place in AL East, no playoffs

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.