White Sox

Brawl builds bonds: White Sox look for a spark

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Brawl builds bonds: White Sox look for a spark

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.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Five ejected in White Sox, Royals brawl in seventh inning]

“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.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Adam Eaton on KC - "I respect the hell out of that team"]

“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.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

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.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the White Sox wait for their All Stars of the future to develop, Jose Abreu is representing the club at the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital.

Abreu, elected by the fans to be the American League’s starting first baseman Tuesday night, might represent the White Sox present, but he’s a key part of their future, as well. While his contract situation remains a mystery — the team would need to extend him in order to keep around past the 2019 season — he’s helping to develop the players who are planned to make up the next contending group on the South Side.

No player is more under Abreu’s guiding hand than Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban who just a season ago was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada’s development from top prospect into star of the future is the biggest storyline of the season for the White Sox. And Abreu, the role model in this clubhouse, is in part tasked with helping Moncada do just that.

“Our friendship is special,” Moncada said through a team translator last week. “We’re always talking about everything, having fun. He gives me advice, and I always try to make fun of him. Our relationship has been for a long time. We were friends in Cuba. And now we are rejoined here. It’s just a very good relationship. I’m blessed having him here.”

“He’s a Cuban, and it’s always special to play with a fellow Cuban countryman. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said through a team translator Monday. “I think that it’s a blessing. The White Sox did all that they could do for us to play together. I’m just enjoying the moment and every day with him. It’s special. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”

Abreu is often lauded by White Sox brass as the perfect example of what they want their young players to become. His incredible production makes that an easy comparison: He put up at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. But it’s what he does outside the lines that gets the highest praise. Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all of Abreu’s teammates constantly talk about his work ethic, his routine, his dedication to getting better and the way he goes about his business.

Moncada’s noticed. And he sees Abreu’s latest accomplishment — getting picked as an All-Star starter — as vindication that, yes, Abreu’s methods certainly work.

“Knowing him, knowing all the effort that he puts into his preparation, his work ethic, all that work that he puts into his preparation is paying off and he’s recognized with this election,” Moncada said. “That’s something that motivates you, something that lets you know that if you do things the right way, you’re going to get rewarded. For me, it’s a motivation, and I feel really honored to share this team with him.”

Moncada’s first full season in the bigs hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s had his hot stretches — including the last couple weeks; he’s slashing .356/.453/.644 since July 2 — but he’s also had long periods of struggles. Certain aspects, such as a propensity for striking out and making errors at second base, have been constants throughout the campaign.

Renteria refers to the mistakes and the poor results as teachable moments. Does he have a proxy teacher in Abreu?

“I tell him to enjoy the game,” Abreu said. “Enjoy the game, have fun, be a little more focused on the situation of the game. But I think the key is to have fun.”

Mostly, though, Abreu is convinced that Moncada will blossom into the kind of player White Sox fans hoped he would when he brought that top-prospect track record to the organization in the Chris Sale trade. The expectations are undoubtedly high, but Abreu’s been seeing Moncada meet them for some time. The two have known each other since the younger Moncada was 17 years old.

“I think that he was born with special abilities to play this sport,” Abreu said. “Before I met him, there were a lot of people talking about him in Cuba because of his abilities, the talent that he has. And when I met him, it was a very special moment. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘Wow, what people say about him is true.’ His body type, his ability to play the game. He’s special.”

So will the All Star of today and the All Star of tomorrow one day share the All-Star stage?

“I would like to have that opportunity. Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity,” Abreu said. “If that happens, that would be really special for us.”