White Sox

Adam Eaton's attention to detail makes big difference on bases

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Adam Eaton's attention to detail makes big difference on bases

OAKLAND — The visiting clubhouse attendants in Oakland have impressed Adam Eaton, who was surprised Saturday to find no white mark near the toes of his cleats.

Normally Eaton’s base running style — one he prominently displayed during Friday’s seventh-inning White Sox rally (Robin Ventura called it a “straight hustle play”) — leaves the tips of his shoes with a white scuffmark from how he hits the front of first base when running down the line.

Eaton and ex-Arizona Diamondbacks teammate A.J. Pollock have practiced the base-running style for several seasons.

Seemingly a minor detail, the play paid big dividends on Friday as Eaton just beat the relay throw on a potential inning-ending double play to extend the inning and the White Sox capitalized with five runs.

[MORE: White Sox wanted to rest David Robertson on Friday]

“I know it’s a really small thing that seems very kind of a waste of time,” Eaton said. “But if you’re a speed guy like him and I, you work on that. …

“They always say hit the front of the bag and we take it to the extreme of hitting the front of the bag and saving yourself a half step. It makes a big difference.”

Up in the Oakland broadcast booth Eric Chavez, a former teammate of Eaton’s, noticed the minor detail. Eaton said he and Chavez had plenty of time to discuss baseball with the Diamondbacks in 2013 and the move is a function of trying to make an impact no matter the situation.

“If I’m going to stink, make something positive out of it and beat this ball out, keep the line moving and it happened to work out,” Eaton said. “And sometimes mentally it can cause a pitcher to think ‘I was that close to getting out of the inning’ and it kind of implodes a little.”

Eaton said he previously used the ploy at Triple-A to fool umpires, who couldn’t tell if he truly reached the base or not from 10-15 feet behind the bag. Several years ago, Eaton said he hardly ever touched the base and then just dragged the toe across because it had the same look from an umpire’s perspective.

[NBC SHOP: Buy an Adam Eaton jersey]

Instant replay has of course changed Eaton’s path to first and he now has to make sure he touches the front of the base with his toe. But the practice still is effective because Eaton saves a half step every time.

“(Chavez) shouldn’t be giving away my secrets,” Eaton said with a laugh. “Before replay, realistically I would never even hit the bag. I would hit the front of the bag and drag my toe over it because from an umpire’s perspective, he’s 10, 15 feet behind the bag, all he sees is my foot hit something and in Triple-A there was quite a few times where I wouldn’t hit the bag and I’d be safe by a half-step. But now with replay you still have to hit the bag … Really I just try to nudge the front of the bag and then drag my foot over the top of it.

“It does make a difference.”

Podcast: Dylan Cease raves about the White Sox farm system

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AP

Podcast: Dylan Cease raves about the White Sox farm system

Coming to you from Washington DC, we speak with Dylan Cease who competed in the MLB Futures Game along with his Birmingham Barons teammate Luis Basabe. 

Cease talks about the White Sox loaded farm system, what players have impressed him the most, where he gets his composure on the mound and more. 

Check out the entire podcast here:

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fernando Tatis, Jr. is one of the brightest future stars in the game. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, one spot behind Eloy Jimenez.

He’s a five-tool shortstop slashing .289/.359/.509 at Double-A San Antonio with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 85 games. He’s bilingual, charismatic, the kind of guy who could be a face of a franchise.

And two years ago, he was property of the White Sox.

That was until they traded Tatis, who was only 17 at the time, to the Padres for James Shields. Tatis had yet to play a single game in the White Sox farm system, so it was tough to predict his future. However, speaking with Tatis before he competed in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, the trade was definitely a shock to him.

“I was surprised. It was weird. For a kid that young to get traded, I had never heard of it. When they told me that, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Tatis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

No front office is going to bat 1.000, and when it comes to Tatis, this is a trade the White Sox would love to have back.

But first, more perspective.

In June of 2016, six months before the White Sox started their rebuild, they were 29-26, a game and a half out of first place. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a healthy Carlos Rodon anchoring their rotation, they felt that with the addition of Shields, they could compete for the division.

Unfortunately, perception didn’t meet reality. Shields struggled on the mound with the White Sox in 2016 and 2017. His numbers have improved considerably, and he could return the White Sox another prospect if he’s dealt before the trade deadline. However, it’s unlikely they’ll receive a player with the potential that Tatis has right now.

“(The trade) was about getting a good starter so they could get to the playoffs. I understood. I know this game is a business,” Tatis said.

Before the trade occurred, Tatis looked into his future and saw a day when he’d be the White Sox starting shortstop.

“Yeah, that was my goal when (White Sox director of international scouting) Marco Paddy signed me,” Tatis said. “We talked about it when I started and that was the goal.”

His goal now is to make it to the major leagues with the Padres.

“I’m pretty close. I want to keep working. When they decide to call me up, I’ll be ready.”

As for his former team, he’s impressed with the talent the White Sox have assembled.

“They’re building something special. They have really good prospects. I wish the best for them.”

You can’t help but wonder what the rebuild would look like if Tatis was along for the ride. He’s the one who got away.