White Sox

Cody Asche bounces back from benching in White Sox victory

Cody Asche bounces back from benching in White Sox victory

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cody Asche has mostly wanted to contribute in some form to the early winning ways for the White Sox.

It just so happened that Thursday afternoon's big contribution arrived a day after he was benched for not living up to White Sox standards, ie: a lack of hustle. Asche's two-run double in the fourth inning helped the White Sox pull away from the Kansas City Royals as they salvaged a series split with an 8-3 victory in front of 36,525 at Kauffman Stadium.

"It feels good honestly just to add to the team and be a contributing part of the lineup," Asche said. "It hasn't been the best go so far. But in a DH role you have to keep taking your at-bats, try to execute and today got one past (Eric) Hosmer and built us a lead and (Derek Holland) went to work."

The bouncing double off Ian Kennedy was a nice bit of redemption for Asche, who inexplicably exited Wednesday's loss after only one at-bat. Manager Rick Renteria said afterward that Asche hadn't injured himself when he struck out during a third-inning at-bat against Kansas City starting pitcher Nate Karns on Wednesday. Even so, Matt Davidson pinch hit for Asche the next time through the order.

On Thursday, Asche revealed his absence was the result of a failure to live up to the team's standards. The struggling designated hitter swung and missed at a 2-2 pitch from Karns that bounced in the dirt and made no effort to run to first base, almost immediately heading for the dugout. While neither he nor Renteria confirmed the exact reason for his benching, Asche made it clear he knew he was in the wrong.

"There's standards that need to be set if you're going to be a White Sox player," Asche said. "If you don't meet the standards, sometimes the manager has to take action. Last night was the case. I don't foresee it being a problem today or moving forward or ever again."

Following the game, Asche said the incident is "water under the bridge" and he was pleased to find his name penciled into Renteria's starting lineup. Though Asche has struggled -- he's 5-for-49 with 18 strikeouts -- Renteria plans to continue to give him every chance to rebound.

The manager also said he was satisfied with Asche's reaction to Wednesday's decision.

"We just have certain things we want to follow through with and he understood," Renteria said before the game. "And I'll leave it at that.

"Hopefully he'll give us what we need, a little shot in the arm. Again, you've seen, we're trying to give us the best opportunity with all the guys we have. Hopefully he'll give us something as a left-handed bat in that lineup."

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.”