White Sox

Chris Sale: White Sox focus is back to baseball after emotional week

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Chris Sale: White Sox focus is back to baseball after emotional week

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale has the look of a man ready to move on after a traumatic week, from his early arrival Saturday morning to his mellow mood in the afternoon.

A day after he dissected the Adam LaRoche controversy in a fiery media session, the White Sox pitcher said he’s ready to move forward and was “jacked” to make his Cactus League debut. Sale allowed a pair of runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts in his first true exhibition game of the spring. The four-time All-Star had pitched three times in simulated games or minor-league contests prior to Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.

Following a long week that included the abrupt retirement of a popular teammate, conflicting information and outrage, the White Sox have made it clear they are ready to resume their preparations for the regular season.

“From (today) forward, we’re showing up to play baseball,” Sale said. “I don’t think there’s anything else to talk about. We have a job to do and I think going forward, moving forward, that’s what we’re here for.”

This clubhouse won’t magically heal overnight.

LaRoche and his son Drake were popular figures with their teammates. Outfielder Adam Eaton went far enough to tell WSCR 670 AM in a Saturday morning interview that both were leaders last year. Manager Robin Ventura’s comments that his clubhouse isn’t as strong as it was five days ago -- though “I hope it will be,” he said -- is a clear indication the White Sox have some work ahead.

[MORE: White Sox must get back on track after wild week]

But Ventura is hopeful that the players within the clubhouse can get an already unified club pointed back in the right direction.

“It’s obviously a tough couple of days of being able to get through everything,” Ventura said. “But we’ll be fine. They’re a tough group.

“I’m glad it’s a veteran team, that they are able to handle it.”

Given his role Friday, when he heavily criticized executive vice president Kenny Williams for his role in the affair, Sale’s first step was a big one.

The quick turnaround shouldn’t come as a surprise, either.

Sale has had his share of passionate episodes over the years, from the Victor Martinez sign stealing episode of 2014 to his temporary move back to the bullpen in 2012 and others.

But it’s the same passion Sale has displayed in those instances that makes him an elite competitor on the field. The White Sox know the fire is part of what makes Sale great. And though they might discuss each instance with Sale, they’re not going to forbid him from speaking his mind, either.

“For anybody that has been around Chris, he has an opinion, he has a right to talk about it and I don’t think that’s going to stop as far as guys having opinions and speaking their minds,” Ventura said.

But sure enough, Sale got his emotions off his chest and has begun the process of moving forward.

That much was evident by his early morning presence at the clubhouse. Starting pitchers are normally allowed to sleep in and arrive later than the rest of their teammates. Yet there was Sale already dressed and smiling and bantering with teammates when the clubhouse opened to the media at 8:30 a.m.

The Florida Gulf Coast product couldn’t wait to pitch in the stadium after his three previous outings were relegated to backfields as part of a plan to hide him from upcoming competition. Sale said he feeds off the crowd, music and atmosphere.

“There’s a big difference,” Sale said. “I was jacked up for it.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Of the 85 pitches Sale threw, only three or four were sliders. He focused on fastball command, a work in progress he said, and was pleased to get up and down six times.

Sale yielded a double, triple and a homer. But he also picked off a base runner for a second straight game, an aspect of his game he has worked on this spring.

Sale has two more starts left before he takes the mound on Opening Day in Oakland, plenty of time to get in the proper work. And while there is clearly still some necessary healing ahead inside the clubhouse, Sale is glad to have his mind back on baseball.

“My body feels great,” Sale said. “Everything is rolling, everything is clicking.”

“It’s good. That’s what we’re here for. I’m here to play games and be ready for the season and get ready for the season. I think collectively as a group we’re doing that and when Day 1 comes we’re going to be just as good as anyone.”

Lucas Giolito has some fun with the not so dark side of his Twitter history

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USA TODAY

Lucas Giolito has some fun with the not so dark side of his Twitter history

White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito isn't having a great season, but at least it looks like his Twitter account could pass a background check.

A Twitter user dug through some of Giolito's tweets from his teenage years. He didn't find much in the way of hateful, mean or angry tweets. Instead, he found candy, touch tanks at the aquarium and animated movies.

The tweet got plenty of attention on the platform, leading Giolito to comment on it. Giolito took the joke with a good sense of humor and made a joke at his own expense.

This kind of makes you wonder what else would qualify as Giolito's "dark side." Maybe this will spawn a series of Lucas Giolito facts like the very tame version of Chuck Norris or The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez lead Charlotte Knights on NBC Sports Chicago

Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez lead Charlotte Knights on NBC Sports Chicago

Tonight, White Sox Triple-A affiliate Charlotte (44-52) will go head-to-head with the Pawtucket Red Sox (45-49) on NBC Sports Chicago at 6 p.m.

Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech (2-5, 4.88 ERA) faces William Cuevas (5-3, 3.21 ERA) at BB&T Ballpark. The flame-throwing Kopech is coming off an 11-strikeout performance in his last start when he completed six innings of work and allowed only four hits and one earned run.

Kopech has been inconsistent for the Knights this season, but leads the International League with a whopping 122 strikeouts. He had a forgettable month of June, when he went 1-4 with a 5.46 ERA, but he looks to be getting on the right track recently.

Charlotte’s batting lineup is highlighted by White Sox No. 1 prospect Eloy Jimenez, who has performed well since his promotion from Double-A Birmingham in mid-June. The powerful hitter has a .283/.348/.483 slash line with three home runs in 60 at-bats with the Knights.

Reliever Ian Hamilton (2.71 ERA), who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 18 White Sox prospect, has served as the team’s closer since his June promotion to Triple-A. The 23-year-old has converted four of five save opportunities with Charlotte, making him a player to monitor during tonight’s game. He has 10 strikeouts with only two walks in 9 2/3 innings.