White Sox

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

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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.”

White Sox say Zack Burdi is fine and could force his way to majors in 2019

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AP

White Sox say Zack Burdi is fine and could force his way to majors in 2019

Zack Burdi’s shutdown in the Arizona Fall League is no cause for concern, at least not to Rick Hahn.

Burdi, who the White Sox took in the first round of the 2016 draft, has been recovering from Tommy John for more than a year. He didn’t pitch in any minor league games during the 2018 season, and he was just taken out of action in the AFL after a handful of appearances.

While that might have raised a few eyebrows, the White Sox general manager said there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Burdi, who many fans consider the top internal candidate to be the White Sox closer of the future.

“He is doing well, and it is too early to be concerned about Zack Burdi,” Hahn said last week at the GM Meetings in Southern California. “It's important to get back throwing regularly. He had a very long rehab process, as you can imagine, which ended with going out on a regular basis in the Arizona Fall League. He cleared every hurdle we had for him at the end.

“He expressed to us a level of fatigue as far as his overall body being worn out from the time of his throwing program to instructs, to the Fall League, we felt it made sense to just shut him down instead of just running him out there for the last two weeks of Fall League.

“We are pleased with where he's at right now. We had always said that the target for him would be to be essentially back without restriction in 2019. That continues to be the case.”

That’s got to be pleasant news for White Sox fans who might have worried that the shutdown was an indicator of some sort of setback in Burdi’s recovery.

What should be even more pleasant news is that Burdi might make his way to the South Side in 2019. He reached Triple-A Charlotte prior to requiring Tommy John surgery in 2017, logging 33.1 innings there with a 4.05 ERA.

The White Sox bullpen is loaded with youth after a flurry of late-season call-ups in 2018, but perhaps there’s room for one more, eventually, the organization's No. 17 prospect.

“Keep in mind that he's still very young,” Hahn said. “He still has relatively few minor league innings under his belt. I can certainly see him forcing his way into our picture in 2019. When, whether it's early, middle or late, I don't know. Let's see where he's at once he's back throwing in games regularly for us. We still very much believe in his future and are pleased with where he's at in terms of his rehab.”

White Sox free-agent focus: Marwin Gonzalez

White Sox free-agent focus: Marwin Gonzalez

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The best way to plan for a future full of unknowns is to cover all your bases — and all the spots in your outfield, too.

Marwin Gonzalez is going to be a very popular man on the free-agent market this offseason because he is one of the most demonstrably versatile players in the game. He’s been a do-it-all savior for the Houston Astros in recent seasons, part of their rise from baseball’s cellar to a world championship in 2017 and their current status as one of the best teams out there.

During the 2018 season alone, Gonzalez appeared at every position except pitcher and catcher, playing 73 games in left field, 39 at shortstop, 32 at second base, 24 at first base, three at third base, two in center field, one at designated hitter and one in right field. That versatility is practically unmatched throughout the game, and it’s likely to get the soon-to-be-30-year-old Gonzalez a nice contract this winter.

For a rebuilding team like the White Sox, he’d be a perfect fit, chiefly because there’s still so much to play out in this rebuilding process and it’s difficult to figure out where the future holes will be. In Gonzalez, the White Sox could add someone now who could fill any number of those potential weak spots, be they caused by failed development or injuries down the road.

But what about his offense? If there is a reason to stay away from Gonzalez, it’s the significant dropoff in his offensive numbers last season. In 2017, the season he helped the Astros win their first-ever World Series title, he slashed .303/.377/.530 with 23 home runs and 90 RBIs, finishing in the top 20 in AL MVP voting. In 2018, he slashed .247/.324/.409 with 16 home runs and 68 RBIs — and that’s with more playing time, his games played jumping from 134 to 145 and his plate appearances jumping from 515 to 552.

Is that enough to scare teams away? That remains to be seen.

Would Gonzalez be a good fit for the White Sox? It sure seems that way, though there are perhaps 29 other teams that could say the same thing.