White Sox

Adam Eaton expects to be '100 percent' ready for Opening Day


Adam Eaton expects to be '100 percent' ready for Opening Day

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Though he won’t play outfield for a little while, Adam Eaton expects to be ready for Opening Day.

The White Sox center fielder said Sunday he and the team have decided on a deliberate recovery as he continues to strengthen his shoulder after he had nerve decompression surgery in October.

Eaton hasn’t been too limited at spring training so far; he’s hitting, running and shagging fly balls like normal. Eaton has even continued to throw. But the Ohio native just hasn’t done so at maximum effort.

“It’s going really well,” Eaton said. “I haven’t talked to the team much with expectations of spring training. But history with this injury and shoulders, we’re not going to jump into anything. We’re definitely going to take our time with it and make sure it’s right. But I can tell you sitting here, 100 percent, that I’ll be ready for Opening Day, no questions asked.”

Eaton played through shoulder pain for almost two and a half months to end last season. Though it affected his sleep pattern — he could only fall asleep sitting up with a pillow under his shoulder — and his throwing, Eaton thrived at the plate. Now in his third season with the White Sox, Eaton said at SoxFest last month that he’s progressing and didn’t anticipate any issues.

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White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t seem too concerned, either, though he did allow that the club has exercised caution.

“We’re very careful about him,” Ventura said. “(Head athletic trainer Herm Schneider's) got him going through stages of how he’s going to get better. Even now, at the end of BP he kind of lobbed it back in to get it in there, but we’re just not going to rush him right now. Even in the intrasquad tomorrow he can do things and DH, but he’s not going to play in the outfield for a while.”

Eaton elected to not comment on how the rehab has gone versus his expectations. But, he also sounds confident he’ll be ready for the regular season, which starts April 4.

“Everything is fine,” Eaton said. “Even my arm is fine. Just making sure it’s strong enough until getting into the game every single day. I’m throwing more than a regular position player — I’m throwing 120 throws, minimum. Arm is feeling fine. Nothing to really worry about.”

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

Dylan Cease's ERA is still north of 5.75.

He's not a finished product, no matter how much anyone wants him to be one.

"It would be ideal for me — and my ability to sleep — and everyone’s mood if these guys came up and dominated immediately," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "In reality there is a little bit of a learning process that goes on."

All these results, the ones that have contributed to that ugly ERA and some generally ugly outings over Cease's first couple months in the major leagues, are learning moments. Not convinced on the effectiveness of those learning moments? Just look to Lucas Giolito, who took all the struggles he had in 2018 and turned them into an All-Star 2019 season in which he's blossomed into the ace of the staff.

But, despite the hype, these guys aren't coming up finished products.

Cease, though, has flashed the potential that has earned him all that hype, and in no outing did he flash more of it than he did in Friday night's start against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Following the theme that seems to be developing in Cease starts, he had a pretty lousy inning early in the game, in this case the very first inning, in which he served up a three-run homer. The theme continues, though, that Cease usually uses all that composure and maturity everyone's always raving about to settle down and pitch a decent game. Friday night, he was more than decent. After the first inning, Cease retired the next 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits (both singles) over five scoreless innings.

Cease, following in the tradition of perfectionist pitchers everywhere, hasn't been happy with previous outings that followed a similar script. This time, he was pleased. Maybe something to do with the career-best nine strikeouts.

"To me, that was just a huge confidence boost right there. Now I just need to not let those big innings happen," Cease said. "That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning."

"You had a couple of things going on," manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a rough first, we scored some runs, he holds them. We scored some more runs, he holds them. He kept doing that throughout. It's a big push. You see, there's a confidence-builder in that particular outing today. He should be happy how he ended up redirecting himself and righting the ship."

Cease's ability to do just that, right the ship, might give him a bit of a head start on his developmental process at the major league level. After all, Giolito and James McCann talk frequently about that issue plaguing Giolito in 2018. When things went wrong early, Giolito couldn't get back on track. He's been able to this year, contributing to his success. If Cease can do that from the day he hits the majors, that's a plus.

And if that's a tool Cease already has in his tool box, then the next step would be eliminating those early troubles. As good as Cease has looked at times, those numbers aren't lying. He's given up 32 earned runs in his 50 big league innings. He's given up 11 home runs in nine starts and has yet to have an outing without allowing a homer. Walks have been a sporadic issue: He walked just one batter in each of his last two starts but walked five in the outing prior and has three starts this year with at least four walks.

Again, learning process.

"His stuff is — it's electric stuff," Renteria said. "Sometimes you wonder, 'How can they hit him?' or 'How can they do this?' It's just (that they are) big league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they're going to do what they can do with it.

"As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he's going to be OK."

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Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side


Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

Scott Podsednik and David DeJesus join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

They talk Yoan Moncada's comeback, Eloy Jiménez's injury, the Cubs' continuing bullpen struggles and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: