White Sox

The app that's redefining the way White Sox players work out

The app that's redefining the way White Sox players work out

Similar to many other aspects of sports, technology has invaded and improved the White Sox strength and conditioning program.

The White Sox have streamlined their program with the aide of the CoachMePlus application, which allows players to participate in offseason workouts wherever they are.

While the in-season benefits are extremely helpful in creating an electronic, real-time log of a player’s activities, the most significant benefit comes in October. As long as they have an internet connection, players can log in from anywhere to learn what strength and conditioning coach Allen Thomas has designed. The app not only offers a detailed workout plan, it provides video examples of each exercise and a chance to comment and the ability to update the activities completed as they occur.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from -- if you have internet in the Dominican, it works there just as well,” Thomas said. “All they’ve got to do is pull their iPad up and it’s right there for them. A virtual coach, really.

“Just follow the offseason condition program and they’ll be fine. I’ve never in 20 years had a problem with any player that has followed the program.”

Thomas said the White Sox began to use CoachMePlus, which bills itself as “the leader in Strength and Conditioning and Applied Sports Science provides the most complete tool for safely preparing your athletes for competition” five seasons ago. According to its web site, the company has been in operation since 2007 and it’s many applications are used by other professional teams as well as universities.

One of its most practical uses for the White Sox -- aside from the hydration program they also employ -- is in the creation of an offseason program tailored to each athlete. One of a strength and conditioning coordinator’s biggest fears is that his player shows up to spring training over weight and out of shape.

But with a program individually tailored to each athlete in any language and real-time updates, Thomas knows if players have kept up. He said it has taken several years for players to get accustomed to the idea. But once they’re on board, it’s easy.

Jose Abreu had Thomas help him design a home gym customized to the way the first baseman likes to workout. If Abreu isn’t sure about how to perform an exercise, he can hit the play button on the right side of the screen and a video example pops up.

“It’s a very useful and helpful app because that gives you the regiment you have to do in the offseason and that helps you to be in the best shape possible when you go to spring training,” Abreu said through an interpreter.

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The applications have plenty of value for the White Sox during the season, too.

Paper records for each player’s physical regimen are no more. Weigh-ins, which occur every time a player walks into the clubhouse, are sent straight to the database as Thomas has the scale linked via blue tooth to the application.

“It saves quite a bit of time especially on bi-weekly and monthly reports,” Thomas said. “If I wanted to go look at Abreu’s weight, I can see every one since spring training and it’s charted, a pie chart and a line graph.”

The record-keeping also allows for cohesion between minor league affiliates and the major leagues when a player moves between different levels. When he was promoted in April to fill in for Melky Cabrera on his three-day paternity leave, Willy Garcia’s charts went with him electronically. Thomas then knew the rookie needed to perform a wall series when he joined the team in Minneapolis.

Double-A Birmingham strength coach Tim Rodmaker said the app makes life in the minors, where lengthy travel is the norm, much easier.

“The schedules are hectic,” said Rodmaker, in his 12th season with the organization and third with the Barons. “The travel, the game times, sometimes it’s hard enough just to get a hold of each other beyond text message or a voice mail. So it’s more of a real time, we can log in, especially when we have players changing affiliates, we can check previous workouts and get a sense where he’s going.”

The White Sox have learned what they like and don’t with the app over the past five years.

Similar to how workouts are tailored to individual players, Thomas said the club has worked with the app’s developers to fine tune it to the needs of the White Sox. Given the improved communication and record-keeping, Thomas couldn’t see the White Sox running the department any other way.

“It’s getting to where it’s just like anything --- it takes a little bit of tweaking here and there to getting it to what you want,” Thomas said. “We’ve worked with the developers and they’ve helped us tailor it to what we want. CoachMePlus has been great.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay, The INSANE Andy Hawkins no-hitter

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay, The INSANE Andy Hawkins no-hitter

Distant replay is back and boy do we have a game for you. What if we told you there was a game where a pitcher threw a no hitter, but lost the game 4-0. This happened to then Yankees pitcher Andy Hawkins vs the White Sox on the final season at the old Comiskey Park. Host Chuck Garfien is joined by Ryan McGuffey, Vinnie Duber, and Chris Kamka to discuss and relive one of the most insane games you will ever see.

(2:43) - Andy Hawkins had the worst luck ever

(9:22) - That 1990 Sox team is similar to the current White Sox

(18:34) - Greg Hibbard and Andy Hawkins both had no hitters going

(28:29) - The error that broke the tie

(32:58) - The error that added insult to injury

(35:04) - How the game ends

(37:14) - Live interview with Andy Hawkins**

(48:05) - The 1990 White Sox won 94 games that season and didn’t make the playoffs

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Believe in 'Magic': For White Sox, a matter of when, not if, Nick Madrigal starts raking in the majors

Believe in 'Magic': For White Sox, a matter of when, not if, Nick Madrigal starts raking in the majors

When will Nick Madrigal reach the majors?

That, now that Luis Robert's path to an Opening Day roster spot has been cleared by a big-money contract extension, is the most pressing of the prospect-related queries facing the 2020 White Sox, a team that, it should be noted, will be turning its focus away from the minors and toward playing big league baseball in October for the first time in more than a decade.

Not unlike Robert, Madrigal shredded minor league pitching in 2019, playing at three levels and showing just how successful his elite bat-to-ball skills can make him as an offensive producer. He stepped to the plate 532 times and struck out only 16 times.

There's a reason even Rick Renteria is already calling the 22-year-old "Magic."

The general feeling seems to be that Madrigal will start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, though with the waiting game apparently over on the South Side and the intent to win as many games as possible, perhaps a strong showing at spring training will see Madrigal starting at second base in the March 26 opener.

That's a question better answered after the White Sox have been in Glendale for a few weeks.

But Madrigal's goal is clear.

"I definitely want to be in Chicago as soon as I can," Madrigal said earlier this week at the team's hitters' camp out in the desert. "I know they have a plan for me one way or another, but I think that’s the ultimate goal: being in Chicago and winning with that team.

"I know this offseason there’s been a lot of moves, and I’m excited to be a part of that, hopefully, in the near future. The ultimate goal is winning. There’s nothing else at this point."

Madrigal might not have blown the doors off the minors like Robert, who finished with a 30-30 season, but he wasn't fazed by climbing through the system. Madrigal put up good-not-great numbers in nearly 50 games at Class A Winston-Salem but exploded for a .341 batting average and a .400 on-base percentage in 42 games at Double-A Birmingham before batting .331 and reaching base at a .398 clip in 29 games at Charlotte.

That he didn't even reach 30 games in a Knights uniform could signal that the White Sox might prefer a little more seasoning, but he didn't see any problems facing the pitching at Triple-A.

“Honestly, it wasn’t too different at all. There was nothing I hadn’t seen before," he said. "There were some older guys in the league, more consistent arms. I thought it wasn’t anything too different.”

Madrigal's earning high praise all over the place, rated among the best prospects in the game. He's earned rave reviews for his ability on both sides of the ball, picked by team executives (in an MLB Pipeline poll) as having one of the best hit tools and gloves of any player in the minor leagues.

There still might be some skepticism, or perhaps mere curiosity, as to how Madrigal's skill set will translate to the major leagues. Players like him, who focus on making contact and putting the ball in play, are becoming rarer in today's game, which sees a focus on power and launch angle and an acceptance of strikeouts. His manager, one of "Magic's" biggest fans, isn't too concerned about Madrigal finding success once he finally makes the jump to the bigs.

"Watching him swing the bat yesterday, I'm amazed at his bat-to-ball skills. It's incredible," Renteria said Wednesday from Arizona. "He's actually filling out a little bit more. All these guys, we've seen them for the last four years, they're growing up. And even though Magic just joined us last year, you can see a difference in him, physically speaking.

"I think his skill set, in terms of his bat-to-ball skills, as he continues to develop, you may see a ball leave the ballpark here and there. But the fact he can put the bat on the ball and manage the barrel as well as he does, he'll be able to find holes. Continuing to improve upon and cleaning his swing path, staying through the ball a little bit more and still being able to use all parts of the field, his skill set will play. He'll find a way to get on base at a high rate through probably contact and eye recognition, pitch recognition."

Rick Hahn has said that he expects Madrigal to be the White Sox second baseman for the bulk of the 2020 campaign, so even if he doesn't make the 26-man roster out of spring training, keep your eyes peeled for a Madrigal sighting not too deep into the baseball calendar.

This is a matter of when, not if. So the walk-up music folks at Guaranteed Rate Field better start getting ready. Will it be "Magic Man" by Heart? Or "Strange Magic" by Electric Light Orchestra? "Do You Believe in Magic" by The Lovin' Spoonful is, of course, also acceptable.

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