They’re still in the getting-to-know you process but the White Sox have a much better idea who their new teammates are after Thursday night’s melee.
From the second Yordano Ventura stared down and shouted obscenities at Adam Eaton, the White Sox showed off their protective nature. Benches and bullpens cleared and a group with 13 new players rallied together in defense of Eaton and others in a beanball war that has persisted throughout the team’s first four meetings of 2015 with the Kansas City Royals.
The incident resulted in a delay of several minutes and a number of scuffles, including several highly visible charges by White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
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“There are a lot of feisty guys in here, too, which I like,” Eaton said. “A lot of guys like me. I respect our guys, too. You come out there on my behalf, it's awesome. It shows the team camaraderie.”
Samardzija may have earned the most points among his teammates.
Though he didn’t play in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Royals, Samardzija didn’t hesitate to get involved in a brawl that left Kansas City manager Ned Yost on the ground. With his long brown hair flying every which way, Samardzija twice charged into a mass of bodies and appeared to be trying to engage Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain. In one instance, Samardzija -- who was not available for comment -- charged toward Cain and Kansas City third-base coach Mike Jirschele tried to intervene, which left he and the pitcher on the ground.
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“We have some guys in here that pulled for each other and we’ve known that the whole time,” pitcher Chris Sale said. “I don’t think tonight was any different than any other night or any other game or anything that we didn’t already know about each other.”
When Samardzija -- who drew first blood in this ongoing feud, hitting Cain on Opening Day after a Mike Moustakas home run -- was on the ground, Kansas City pitcher Edinson Volquez attempted in vain to land several punches. But Volquez quickly backed up and ran away from the fray when White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers stepped in and started to bark.
“It definitely can be a bonding thing,” Flowers said. “As a team right there, protecting each other’s, watching your back … You don’t want to see those kinds of things happen a lot, but when they do, you count on the guys around you to make sure nothing bad happens.”
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White Sox manager Robin Ventura likes how his players defended one another. As of Thursday night, he wasn’t sure if any suspensions would be handed down -- though it’s hard to imagine nobody is penalized.
“You see what’s going on out there and you don’t know how it exactly starts, but once it starts … there was a good team thing behind it too, when guys have each other’s backs,” Ventura said.
Sale hopes another positive for the White Sox emerges from what he called a “big mess.” The White Sox have struggled through their first 15 games but Sale hopes Thursday’s event can act as a catalyst.
“Let’s hope it’s something that sparks us, lights a fire,” Sale said. “We need something like that and hopefully it catapults us into a streak and we look at this and keep going up.”