Every weekday throughout the offseason, CSN White Sox Talk will pass along three completely trivial (but hopefully interesting) tidbits from White Sox history. Most of these notes come from Baseball-Reference's Play Index, which dates back to 1919. Today, we look at birthday home runs.
29: The number of times a White Sox player has homered on his birthday since 1920, with the most recent birthday blast coming as a walk-off home run off the bat of Andruw Jones on April 23, 2010, his 33rd birthday. Jones' game-ending tater off Seattle's Mark Lowe gave him two in the game, making him just the second player in White Sox history to hit a pair of home runs on his birthday. The other was Mount Olive, Ill. native Mike Kreevich, who hit two homers against Boston on June 10, 1938, his 30th birthday.
4: The number of players who have hit a home run on two different birthdays. Tony Bernazard homered on his 25th and 26th birthdays, marking the only time a White Sox player has gone deep on consecutive birthdays. Frank Thomas, naturally, is on the list, hitting home runs on his 26th and 34th birthdays. Sherm Lollar homered on three birthdays in the 1950s and Zeke Bonura homered on his 26th and 28th birthdays in 1930s to round out the list.
Other notables: Shoeless Joe Jackson is the first name on this post-deadball list, going deep on his July 16 birthday in 1920. He would only hit eight more home runs in his career. One of Robin Ventura's 12 home runs in July of 1991 came on his birthday (714), while Carlos Lee (June 20, 2001), Thomas (May 27, 2002), Juan Uribe (July 22, 2005), Gordon Beckham (Sept. 16, 2009) and Jones (April 23, 2010) are the only Sox players to homer on their birthday since the turn of the millennium.
White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.
He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.
Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.
It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.
Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.
The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.
The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.
The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.
Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.
Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.
Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.
However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.
But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.