White Sox

Big Hurt 2.0? Frank Thomas confirms Aaron Judge is a large man after meeting at MLB All-Star Game

Big Hurt 2.0? Frank Thomas confirms Aaron Judge is a large man after meeting at MLB All-Star Game

We all know Aaron Judge is a monster, and not just metaphorically.

At 6-foot-7, Judge is bigger than NFL star Rob Gronkowski and apparently makes Frank Thomas, who was known as 'The Big Hurt' in Chicago, look like he stumbled into take your kid to work day.

Check out the photo The Big Hurt tweeted of the two standing back-to-back before the MLB All-Star Game:

Just to get even more perspective on Judge's goliath-like size, here's your tale of the tape of both players at their playing weight:

Judge: 6'7", 282 lbs

Thomas: 6'5", 240 lbs

My advice to catchers standing at home when Judge rounds third base.... get the heck out of the way. 

Dallas Keuchel sees White Sox youth as double-edged sword in shortened season

Dallas Keuchel sees White Sox youth as double-edged sword in shortened season

Will the White Sox youth be a help or a hindrance in this unprecedented 60-game Major League Baseball season?

The team's newly added veterans see the youth around them as a double-edged sword.

"I feel like this team is going to go either really, really good or really bad to start," starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said Wednesday, almost eerily echoing his new batterymate, Yasmani Grandal, who said almost the exact same thing a day earlier.

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Asked about how he expected the White Sox mostly young pitching staff to fare this season, Grandal said: "There isn't going to be a gray area. Sixty games is a very small window that we have to put everything together, so it's going to be either really good or it's going to be really bad."

"Either really good or really bad" would not fly as a 2020 slogan in a meeting with the White Sox marketing team. But it's suddenly become a theme.

Granted, these guys are predicting the unpredictable, and that's the point behind their words. An abrupt halt to spring training in March, a months-long layoff while baseball watched the COVID-19 pandemic and saw fruitless negotiations between the league and players' union, and now just a three-week ramp-up period before a two-month sprint of a regular season. It's never happened before. For all their confidence in their own personal readiness, no one seems to know what kind of game shape their competition will be in. All 30 teams were built for 162 games, making it impossible to guess how they'll perform in 60.

So excuse the White Sox newcomers for providing a couple different possibilities for how things could play out on the South Side when the season gets going in a week.

"It’s that sprint. It’s no longer that marathon where you can kind of get off to a shaky start or even kind of an indifferent start," Keuchel said. "I feel like this team is going to go either really, really good or really bad to start. I would like to think we are going to go really good to start. We have the youth, we have the talent.

"It’s just really who gets out to that hot start and kind of continues it. Nobody knows what that’s going to be like until we step on that field (July 24)."

RELATED: Yasmani Grandal getting younger White Sox ready for 'playoff mode' all season

OK, so that covers the unknown (some of it, anyway). How about what we do know?

The White Sox added some veteran help this winter, Keuchel and Grandal the two biggest names in a group that also includes Edwin Encarnación and Steve Cishek. And of course, José Abreu is back on a new three-year deal.

But the bulk of this roster — and the bulk of why the White Sox rebuilding effort looks ready to launch into contention mode — is made of youngsters who either broke out in a big way last season or have their breaking out still to come: Yoán Moncada, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo López, Carlos Rodón, Nick Madrigal. The list makes for an exciting future.

But what does it do for the present? For that, we're going back to the unknown.

According to Keuchel, the youth provides a lot of positives, which White Sox fans can probably rattle off quite easily at this point. But if the 60-game sprint to the postseason is going to feel like a pennant chase from Day 1, well, the vast majority of these guys — Abreu included — haven't experienced that kind of thing before.

As important as Keuchel's World Series experience is, or Grandal's experience playing in the last five postseasons, or Encarnación's experience winning in the AL Central with the Cleveland Indians, that can only go so far. The rest of the team has to play well enough to make it the rest of the way.

And so the guys who know what it takes aren't quite sure whether this White Sox team will be able to expertly handle such a thing under such weird circumstances. They're hopeful, sure, but they'd be lying if they said they were certain.

"I think in this situation that nobody really has ever been in, I think youth might help out with how we are going to be doing things," Keuchel said. "We've got speed. We’ve got everything we need to compete with every other team."

RELATED: Why the White Sox are ready to take the next step: Free-agent additions

But the youth also makes the other extreme possible, a pitfall a more experienced team might not need to worry about, so says the 2017 world champ.

"The more veteran presence, the more veteran team, I feel like is going to be really, really good or middle of the road to start," Keuchel said. "I think the young team, you are going to get really, really good or really, really bad. If we can detour from really, really bad to start, we have a really good shot of staying in it and making a run at the Central (or) a wild card spot.

"That’s the one area where youth does help is (you could have) potentially a really, really hot start because of the athleticism there. They are always fresh because they are so young."

Again, don't get Keuchel or Grandal wrong. They've been as positive about the outlook for these White Sox as anyone. Heck, they signed up in the offseason because they wanted to be a part of things moving forward.

But as good as Anderson and Robert and Giolito look in "Summer Camp" right now — not to mention Keuchel, who's been pretty great himself in the White Sox intrasquad games — there's nothing at all certain about the 2020 baseball season.

"Either really good or really bad." It's not a winning marketing slogan. But it might be as accurate a prediction as you're going to get right now.


Dallas Keuchel looks a lot like Mark Buehrle in perfect intrasquad outing

Dallas Keuchel looks a lot like Mark Buehrle in perfect intrasquad outing

Through Dallas Keuchel’s extensive Major League experience – which consists of eight years and 202 starts – he figures there are 5-10 starts a season in which he’s completely locked in.

He describes the feeling as being able to “go out there and know you're going to be locked in from the moment that first pitch goes out of your hand to whenever you're done.” The rest of the season – usually 24 or 25 starts – are just “coin flips.”

Well, considering that Keuchel was so good in Wednesday’s intrasquad game that it actually created a problem (he was literally too efficient and couldn’t get in as many pitches as he wanted to in 3.2 innings of work), you would think he would file the outing under “locked in.”

Somehow, that was not the case.

“Today was one of those days where it was coin flip, but we managed to make some pitches when I had to,” he said on his postgame Zoom chat with reporters.

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Officially, Keuchel faced 11 batters and got all 11 outs. By intrasquad standards, it was a perfect game. So if that was a coin flip, White Sox fans should be excited.

Keuchel needed just 34 pitches to get through the lineup and record nine outs. To get more work in – and create some sort of jam to get out of – runners were placed at second and third with one out to start the fourth inning. Keuchel promptly forced Leury Garcia to groundout to second baseman Nick Madrigal (who threw Yermin Mecedes out at home plate) and then got Andrew Vaughn to groundout to Tim Anderson to end the abbreviated inning.

Hence, the 3.2 perfect innings.

“My mental hurdle is going to be the 4.2 or 5 innings and try to push that pitch count up,” Keuchel said.

He should get one more outing to accomplish that goal. If he can get there, then he believes he’ll be ready to go 6-plus innings in his first regular season start, which could come July 25 against the Minnesota Twins.

Interestingly, Keuchel pitched Wednesday’s game entirely out of the stretch.

“I feel locked in. I've been out of the stretch exclusively and that's because I feel so locked in with that I might just keep it going,” he said. “So I might be a left-handed, softer version of Stephen Strasburg.”

Right now, Keuchel looks more like a different dominating pitcher that White Sox fans are familiar with: Mark Buehrle. Keuchel pitched with such efficiency, dotting the corners consistently, that if not for the beard and No. 60 on the jersey, you might have actually thought it was Buehrle pitching.

“I watched Buehrle for years,” Keuchel said. “He was probably way too fast for me because that just seemed like it was rapid pace, but man, he was really good at that.”

But both pitchers have an extremely appeasing style of pitching when they are in a groove, which Keuchel certainly was Wednesday.

“Just knowing yourself is the biggest key now,” he said. “Pace and understanding of yourself are really big keys to my game.”

And right now, knowing himself means knowing that he should stick with pitching out of the stretch.

“The windup hasn't really felt phenomenal to me, but then the other side of it is that the stretch has felt so locked in that I might just go with that,” Keuchel said. “I'm going to continue to work on everything and see where it goes in the next 10 days because as soon as something clicks in the windup, I mean, it's just going to be there like the stretch is, but right now it's not there.”

The good news is that Keuchel feels like it much more important to be able to pitch out of the stretch. In fact, he usually starts camp focusing on the stretch and letting that dictate his windup because “the most important pitches are out of the stretch and you need to make quality, quality pitches out of the stretch during the course of a 34 start-season if you want to be a household name or a perennial All-Star.”

Keuchel delivered nothing but quality pitches from the stretch Wednesday. And if he keeps that going, the White Sox are going to be awfully happy with their free agent addition in 2020.