White Sox

After undergoing an alternative to Tommy John, Chris Beck knows the dilemma facing Jacob deGrom

After undergoing an alternative to Tommy John, Chris Beck knows the dilemma facing Jacob deGrom

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While it’s not totally clear yet that their surgeries would be identical, White Sox pitcher Chris Beck has a sense for what Jacob deGrom is experiencing.

Last November, Beck avoided reconstructive elbow surgery, more commonly known as Tommy John, and instead had an ulnar nerve transposition, which requires several months of recovery time versus 12-18 months.

The procedure likely bears some similarities to the one the New York Mets pitcher will undergo in the future. The Mets announced Saturday that deGrom needs a “surgical repair” to his ulnar nerve, but it isn’t expected to be a significant procedure. Media reports have estimated the recovery time at three months.

While Beck, who allowed two earned runs in two innings in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, was ticked to be inactive for two months last offseason as he recovered, he also knew he had avoided the big one.

“It’s scary at first because all the signals point to the one big surgery we try to avoid,” Beck said. “Obviously he played the same game I did, the waiting game, and tried to go through it, rehab it. Finally, just to get that news is a relief just because of how quick the turnaround is. Range of motion doesn’t take long to come back and then it’s just letting the nerve settle and then you’re good to go. I know it’s probably disappointing where the Mets are and the expectations are, but the mental side of it has to be a relief just like it was for me.”

Beck had the surgery Nov. 4. He wore a cast for a week, but had range of motion back before he had it removed. He said the only negative was the restriction from exercise of any kind for two months in order to let the nerve calm.

But Beck was throwing on a regular schedule in spring training and has had no limitations this season. He entered Sunday throwing his fastball at an average of 94.4 mph, according to fangraphs.com, up from 91.8 mph last year. While some of the increase in velocity can be attributed to a move from the rotation to the bullpen, Beck said he has never felt better.

“Honestly, improvement in stuff and the way I feel,” Beck said. “In high school they thought it was a bone spur in my elbow. When they would straighten it out there’d be a little pinching in the back. Ever since I had it moved there’s been no signal of that. It’s just how we’re built. Sometimes nerves are too short, in the wrong spot. Luckily for me it wasn’t the other one.”

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Another MLB team will soon extend the protective netting in its home ballpark. 

Thursday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner announced that the Nationals will extend the protective netting at Nationals Park further down the foul lines. The netting will be installed during the All-Star break, according to Lerner's press release. 

Ahead of the 2018 season, all 30 MLB teams extended the protective netting in their home ballparks to reach the outfield end of both dugouts. However, the White Sox announced on Tuesday that they will extend netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to reach both foul poles, becoming the first MLB team to do so.

Extended netting has become a widely-discussed topic across baseball this season. In a game between the Cubs and Astros on May 29, a four-year old fan was struck by a foul ball line drive hit by Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. The fan was rushed to the hospital following the incident and players from both teams were visibly shaken afterwards.

Almora spoke out about the need to protect fans several days later.

"I hope this never happens again, so whatever the league has to do to make that happen," Almora said at Busch Stadium on May 31 ahead of a Cubs-Cardinals game. "I don't think any kid that goes to a baseball game with their parents or whoever should worry about making it out unhealthy or whatever the case may be. I don't think that should ever cross their mind. 

"Whatever the league needs to do to do that, that should be in place."

Lerner referenced the fan in Houston specifically in the Nationals' announcement on Thursday.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums," Lerner said. "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive.

"I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

Although only the White Sox and Nationals have announced plans for further extended netting this season, more teams will likely follow suit. In fact, the Rangers will extend the netting at their new ballpark next season to a similar area as the Nationals.

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One plate appearance was all it took for Zack Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about

One plate appearance was all it took for Zack Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about

Though only four runs separated the White Sox from the Cubs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, it felt like a blowout when Zack Collins made his first trip to the plate as a big leaguer.

The No. 11 prospect in the organization was called up to the majors ahead of Tuesday's game, though he didn't see any action then, and he wasn't in the starting lineup for Wednesday night's Crosstown contest on the North Side, either.

But manager Rick Renteria called on Collins to pinch hit — an appearance perhaps only made possible by National League rules in a National League park — with two outs to go in the top of the ninth inning.

"It was huge for me. It was a dream come true," he said after the game. "Just stepping up to the plate, looking to the outfield, seeing the crowd. We were down four in the top of the ninth and obviously trying to get on base, trying to keep the train moving. I thought I put a good at-bat together and it was a lot of fun.

"Rizzo said a couple things to me, said congratulations and stuff like that. That was pretty cool. Other than that I was kind of in a daze out there looking around. Like you said, soaking it all in, enjoying the moment."

It only took one plate appearance for Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about. He worked the count full and took a walk. Get used to that.

Collins made quite a habit of that kind of thing in the minor leagues, posting huge on-base percentages over the last few years. In 122 games at Double-A Birmingham last season, he had a .382 on-base percentage, and he wasn't far off that mark in his 50 games at Triple-A Charlotte this season, reaching base at a .374 clip. Last season, he walked 101 times for a 19 percent walk rate. This season, he walked 36 times for a 17.5 percent walk rate.

His walk rate in the majors is a cool 100 percent at the moment. The 1.000 on-base percentage looks even better.

"That's pretty good, right?" he joked.

Patience at the plate might end up being Collins' most valuable attribute at the major league level. His offensive skills have been lauded since the White Sox took him with a top-10 pick in the 2016 draft, and he hit 49 homers in his four minor league seasons, also showing off that power by winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game last year. His defensive skills have remained a question, though, and while he'll most likely serve as the White Sox No. 2 catcher behind James McCann, who's in the midst of an All-Star campaign, he can also be utilized at designated hitter and perhaps even first base.

But it's that good eye that the White Sox are hoping to see from the get-go. They saw it Wednesday night, and it's something Collins said has always been a part of his game.

"I've never really worked on that, so I would guess it kind of came naturally. It's a good thing to have," he said. "Guys at this level have some pretty good stuff. I'm looking to be aggressive but also swing at strikes."

You only get one chance to make a first impression, they say. Collins' first impression was pretty emblematic of the kind of hitter he hopes to be in the bigs.

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