White Sox

Current White Sox know what made 2005 team so special

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Current White Sox know what made 2005 team so special

Ten years ago is a long time in baseball years.

The White Sox are spending the weekend honoring the 2005 team that won a world championship. Only three current White Sox were major leaguers in 2005: Adam LaRoche was in his second season of 100-plus games with the Braves, while Zach Duke made 14 starts for the Pirates and Melky Cabrera had a six-game stint with the Yankees.

But, thanks to a couple long-tenured members of that 2005 team — Paul Konerko the most notable among them — the memories and the lessons of the World Series run aren't completely absent inside the current White Sox club house.

Tyler Flowers played alongside Konerko, Mark Buehrle and a few others. And while the 2005 World Series might not have been a daily conversation topic four, five, six years after the fact, he had no problem addressing how important that championship was to his former teammates.

[MORE WHITE SOX: One decade later, 2005 White Sox remember team more than individuals]

"The only the way you win a championship is being solid in certain areas: the team chemistry, the camaraderie," Flowers said. "I think you see with even just the guys who are here (this weekend), they're all still pretty tight buddies. That's something, you develop that chemistry together when you play, those bonds that are pretty strong, the brotherhood kind of thing. You see that still to this day, 10 years later, between a lot of those guys.

"Of course Paul's been an influence on all of us over the years. I guess he's touched on some of that over the course of conversations we've had. ... He talked about some of the good times he had and memories from that run, kind of how dominantly they did it, which was pretty neat. But I know all those guys, the group that's here right now, that bond they share is something pretty special. Not many people get to experience that."

Whether this weekend on the South Side or earlier this year at SoxFest, that relationship between those former White Sox players is quite evident. In a pregame conversation in front of season-ticket holders Saturday, Anderson, Geoff Blum, Aaron Rowand and Ozzie Guillen talked about the family aspect of that year's team and how it's persisted in the decade following. Rowand discussed the goofy, brotherly pranks they played on each other — like jokingly ripping on Dye after a bad play in right field by running over a Dye T-shirt with a car and hanging it in his locker — and Anderson talked about the help and advice he got from Rowand and Guillen while attempting to prolong his big league career.

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Even current manager Robin Ventura, who in 2005 was in his first season following the end of his playing days, knew what made that White Sox team special.

"For them, it was more of a chemistry thing," Ventura said. "They pitched well, that was the biggest thing that they did first. But they also got the hit at the right time. They didn't have any Triple Crown winners, so it was a team effort as far as offensively getting done what you need to get done. And then the playoffs, they pitched. They had guys that came out and not just pitched well but (pitched well) the whole game. They're also a little off in a good way. There's some interesting characters."

Seeing the organization's last championship squad honored on the field prior to Saturday's game might provide a bit of inspiration to the current group, but Flowers said it won't provide any additional motivation. Just like that team was in 2005, the focus of the 2015 team is on what's in front of them, not what's 10 years in the past. It's lessons like that that were passed down from Konerko, Buehrle and the like.

"I don't think we need any extra motivation," Flowers said. "It's cool that we have relationships with those guys, guys that have been there and been successful and got rings. But other than that, we'll applaud them when we're out there, they did a good job, but we've got to stay focused on what we're doing."

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.”