White Sox

Alex Avila: 'Can't wait to kick (Detroit's) ass'

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Alex Avila: 'Can't wait to kick (Detroit's) ass'

The potential for playing time with the White Sox is more important to Alex Avila than the possibility of an awkward moment he might face against his old team.

The veteran catcher said Monday the chance to be more than a backup catcher with the White Sox was the impetus for signing a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Last week, general manager Rick Hahn suggested Avila — who previously played for the Detroit Tigers — could split time with Tyler Flowers as the White Sox attempt to improve an offense that finished 14th among 15 American League teams in runs scored.

Though his new home means he’ll have to face Detroit 19 times next season, Avila is excited about the opportunity. He also seems pretty fired up to face the Tigers and letting them know he’s not done.

“It will be interesting for sure facing the Tigers,” Avila said. “Obviously with all the friends and relationships I have there, it will be interesting. It will be a lot of fun. Obviously, seven years is a long time in this game to be in this place. So there’s a lot of relationships I have there.

“It will actually be nice to be able to see everybody off the field. At the same time, I can’t wait to kick their ass.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox believe Alex Avila 'has potential to improve us']

The White Sox would love nothing more than for Avila to take a few names. His productivity has steadily declined as health problems have limited him to 191 games the past two seasons, including only 67 contests in 2015. A year after he might have suffered up to three concussions, the left-handed hitting backstop missed nearly two months with a bone bruise in his left knee last season and saw his OPS slip to a career-low .626.

But the White Sox are starved for good at-bats, and Avila still has provided them. Despite seeing his average slip to .191 last season, Avila finished with a .339 on-base percentage. In discussions about his role, Avila got the sense from Hahn he could see a significant amount of time playing alongside Flowers.

“One of the things that was important to me was obviously an opportunity to play as opposed to being a straight backup catcher,” Avila said. “When we were going through the whole process, to me it seemed like that opportunity was going to be there with me and Tyler splitting time and letting Robin (Ventura) kind of use both of our strengths in order to be as productive as possible.”

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Not only is the playing time potentially there, so too is the familiarity. Avila said he likes that he won’t have to learn an entirely new cadre of hitters by staying in the American League, and he’s even more in tune with AL Central players.

Though Detroit’s decision to let him depart via free agency didn’t seem to surprise Avila, it doesn’t mean moving on is easy. Avila joined the Tigers in August 2009 and was an integral part of the club’s four straight AL Central championships.

But Avila, who turns 29 in January, equally looks forward to joining the White Sox.

“Some mixed emotions,” Avila said. “I wouldn’t say sad but just when you come to the realization that obviously something you’ve known for a long time is not going to be the case anymore, especially with the amount of success we’ve had as a team in Detroit, and not going into the ballpark with the same group of guys and the same faces I’ve seen for the last seven years, obviously that’s the tough part about the game. The relationships you form, sometimes you are not able to continue those.

“It was a little tough for me because a lot went into the last seven years. You put a lot of time and effort into it. But at the same time, I’m extremely excited about something new that is going to be coming into my life. A new place, new teammates, new opportunity.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

For many White Sox fans, Comiskey Park was their introduction to White Sox baseball when they were young. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka share their memories of the old ballpark. Among them: Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl, Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball, Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game, they discuss the final game ever played there and read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below.

8:26 - Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl.

10:11 - Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball.

12:49 - Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game

15:11 - The guys talk about the final game ever played there.

16:44 - The guys read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

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'White Sox to the Letter'

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AP

'White Sox to the Letter'

Inspired by Ogden Nash’s 1949 poem “A Lineup for Yesterday”

 

A is for A.J.

Once punched in the face

If strike three ain’t caught

He’ll steal first base

 

B is for Baines

Who’s known to speak gently

When asked if he’ll homer

He said, “Evidently!”

 

C for Comiskey

The old baseball yard

When it was torn down

I took it quite hard

 

D is for Donkey

I mean Adam Dunn

He’d strike out or walk

Or hit a home run

 

E is for Eloy

He isn’t here yet

Though an All-Star career

Is still a good bet

 

F is for Fisk

The incomparable Pudge

From his perch behind home

Not an inch he would budge

 

G is for Gold

G is for Glove

Aparicio is

Who I’m thinking of

 

H is for Hawk

Unforgettable voice

Stretch! Dadgummit!

And don’t stop now boys!

 

I for Iguchi

Second base man

Won World Series

Returned to Japan

 

J is for Jackson

The legend still grows

A home run or touchdown

Only Bo knows

 

K is for Kopech

Speed, he has plenty

He’ll pile up strikeouts

In two thousand twenty

 

L is for Luke

Old Aches and Pains

Hit .388

That record remains

 

M is for Mark

As in Mister Buehrle

When he takes the mound

The game will end early

 

N is for no-no

Wilson Alvarez, Humber

Two by Mark Buehrle

Too many to number

 

O for Orestes

Miñoso’s real name

Not in the Hall

And that’s a real shame

 

P is for Paulie

He gave it his all

At the championship rally

Gave Jerry the ball

 

Q for Quintana

Kept coming up short

Only because

Of no run support

 

R is for Richie

But please call him Dick

A dangerous man

When he’s swinging the stick

 

S is for shoes

Which were not worn by Joe

In 1919

Please say it ain’t so

 

T is for Thomas

Amazing career

He went to the Hall

And brewed Big Hurt Beer

 

U for Uribe

He played everywhere

When the ball left his bat

Hands waved in the air

 

V is for Veeck

He knew how to sell

Fireworks, promotions

And Eddie Gaedel

 

W is for William

Or Bill; He was Beltin’

So hot was the corner

Third baseman was Melton

 

X is for Fox

At least the last letter

Among second basemen

Nobody was better

 

Y is for Yolmer

He has sneaky power

The master of giving

A Gatorade shower

 

Z is for Zisk

And others I missed

Unable to fit

In my White Sox list