White Sox

Asik's improvement can be attributed to confidence

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Asik's improvement can be attributed to confidence

Omer Asiks improvement with the Houston Rockets can be attributed to one thing: confidence.

Of course, more playing time always helps. The third-year Turkish big man is averaging a career-high 30 minutes per game coming into his return to Chicago against his former club, which easily tops the 12.1 and 14.7 minutes he averaged his first two seasons as the front line anchor of the Bulls Bench Mob.

Along with more minutes, Asik is averaging 10 points, 11 rebounds and one block per contest.

Omer has been fantastic, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. I think any time you ask someone to stretch their minutes from spot minutes 14, 12, 16, 18, to 30 minutes (per game) youre never sure what youre going to get, but hes been fantastic. Omer has been great. Hes been rebounding the ball at a high level, been a real diligent worker, has been working on his game and been real solid defensively in the paint. Hes been fantastic.

Hes handling the ball a little bit more, hes rolling, hes making passes and hes just doing a lot of different stuff, he continued. But hes a young guy. I think anytime that your role really expands, its a real good opportunity for him to grow and he has been. I think his offense has been growing, his free throw percentage is way up and I think a lot of that is just confidence. I just see a more confident player.

McHale hasnt had the chance to fully work with Asik on adding to his low-post moves, saying, Weve done some stuff, but not as much. Well do more as we go along. He had a lot of adjustments to make, the last thing in the world he needed was to think about 10 other things. So we tried to narrow it down for him. Hes done a lot of work and hes going to keep progressing.

While the Bulls still boost one of the leagues best defenses, allowing opponents just 91 points per game, its clear theres a void defensively without Asik backing up Joakim Noah, but Tom Thibodeau sees the loss, but appreciates the gains more.

I think Jo playing more minutes has helped him develop, Thibodeau said of Noah, whos having a career season. We liked having both of them, it didnt work out for us. Were happy for Omer. Hes a great guy, did a great job for us here.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.