White Sox

Alex Avila: Leadership role is 'something that's earned'

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Alex Avila: Leadership role is 'something that's earned'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Alex Avila is a firm believer that leadership has more to do with how a player conducts himself off the field than how he performs on it.  

On the second official day with his new club, Avila was asked Saturday if he can provide the White Sox with much-needed leadership this season. The catcher — who signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million in November — didn’t rule out the possibility. But were he to step into that role, Avila expects he would so with a more low-key approach.

“I think there’s a misconception when it comes to respect and leadership,” Avila said. “People think that you’re kind of like born like that. It’s something that’s earned. …

“People over the years have seen me, the way I carry myself.

“It’s not so much something you should earn by how you play. There’s a lot of d---heads that play really well that you wouldn’t consider leaders.”

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Robin Ventura agrees with Avila’s stance. Though they’ve only begun to work with each other this week, Ventura knows the type of leadership Avila provided to the Detroit Tigers for seven seasons. The White Sox manager thinks Avila can offer the same to his club and suggested the catcher sticks to his approach and eventually it would work.

“Those things evolve,” Ventura said. “(In) talking to Alex, it’s like, don’t go in there and try to hang a sign out on your locker that says I’m the leader because it will come to him.

“That stuff is earned. You can’t come in and pound your chest and say ‘I’m the guy that’s going to lead’ because the things that make you not a leader are going to come out.”

Good health is likely to be a huge factor in Avila becoming a leader and he expects it to be there. He thinks the knee problems that dogged him for several seasons, including a trip to the disabled list in 2015, are in the past.

Avila was on the DL from May 8 to June 2, after which he required time to get back into baseball shape. But once healthy, Avila said he felt much better and it carried over to this offseason.

[MORE: Mat Latos: White Sox 'good fit' to get back on track]

“It felt as good as it had felt in probably quite a few years,” Avila said. “I was really encouraged by it. I haven't had any issues with it over the offseason through all my workouts. It was the first offseason I was able to have that I didn't have to go through any type of rehab or anything like that.”

Avila played with closer David Robertson at Alabama and knows several White Sox players. But most of the team’s pitching staff is brand new, which means he has just begun the get-to-know-you phase with many pitchers. Avila said the only spring training goal he has set for himself is to catch each pitcher on the staff. Through two days, Avila has caught Chris Sale, Erik Johnson, Carson Fulmer, Zach Putnam and Zach Duke.

Sale likes the additions of Avila and Dioner Navarro. He said their experience speaks for itself.

“I think it’s going to be a smooth transition,” Sale said.

[RELATED: Rick Hahn confident offense has improved, but won't rule out additions]

Avila thinks so, too, even if he’s experiencing an entirely new world this spring. He arrived in Phoenix a week early to familiarize himself with the new complex and city, having spent every other spring in his career in Florida.

“It's different,” Avila said. “It's a little strange. I was joking with some of the clubhouse guys that when they send me catcher's gear it's still going to be navy and white rather than black and white. It's a little different, but after a few days you get over that and really the only thing you focus on is getting ready for games and playing.”

As for the leadership, that will come on its own and should have very little to do with what takes place on the field. If and when it does arrive, Avila also expects it will happen with little fanfare.

“If I’m doing my job right as far as being a leader, you won’t hear about it,” Avila said.

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