White Sox

From experience, Rowand understands Johnson demotion

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From experience, Rowand understands Johnson demotion

OAKLAND -- Aaron Rowand expects he’ll feel comfortable working with Hawk Harrelson this weekend on White Sox TV broadcasts.

Rowand, who played for the White Sox from 2001-05 and is filling in for color analyst Steve Stone, looked at home in the visiting clubhouse as he chatted with current players in the lead up to Friday night’s game against the Oakland A’s.

[MORE: White Sox confident defense is bound to improve]

Beyond the insight he can lend to what players are trying to accomplish, Rowand has the ability to discuss in depth a current topic he also experienced, the demotion of Micah Johnson on Thursday.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn compared Johnson’s demotion to Charlotte to ones experienced by Joe Crede and Rowand, who was sent down to Triple-A by the White Sox in 2003. Though he didn’t see it at the time, Rowand, now agrees it was the right move.

“There are times where you need to go down under a less stressful situation than being in the spotlight of the major league atmosphere, fans, media, and being able to work on stuff in a less stressful environment,” Rowand said. “You get a lot more done and don’t feel the heat of trying to do well enough to make sure you stay here. It’s being able to actually get a lot of productive work done to be back up here so when you do get called back up you’re more prepared.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Rowand sensed the White Sox might send him to the minors at the time. He was off to a slow start after he had shoulder surgery following an offseason motorcycle accident. On May 1, Rowand was hitting .133/.200/.167 through 28 games. He returned to the majors on June 10 and hit .381/.408/.629 over his final 70 games.

“Even though I wouldn’t have admitted it, at the time I probably wasn’t at 100 percent health and it affected my swing mechanically,” Rowand said. “And I needed to get work in and try to get my swing back where it needed to be. At the time I wasn’t very happy about it, but looking back it was the right thing to do. And under the circumstances, not having all the pressure of having to perform up here, and actually get a good body of work done, got me back to where I could come back up and be productive at this level.”

Rick Renteria approaching 2020 season like White Sox already in first place

Rick Renteria approaching 2020 season like White Sox already in first place

Rick Renteria's strategy for getting his team off to a fast start in baseball's 60-game sprint to the postseason?

Act like the season's already two-thirds of the way over — and that his White Sox are the team to beat in the AL Central.

"We've got a 60-game schedule. I'm going to assume we've already played 102 games and we're in first place and we're trying to hold on to that slot," the White Sox skipper said Monday. "It is important for a club to get off to a good start because obviously the schedule is waning, it's short. So I'm going to approach it that way and put us in a position where we are creative, try to have a good eye on what everybody's doing and see if we can kind of maintain ourselves through the whole schedule."

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Indeed, when the White Sox regular-season schedule begins later this month, they will be in first place. As part of a five-team tie, but in first place nonetheless.

If they want to be there when the regular season comes to a close just two months later, they'll need to topple the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, the two teams who fought it out for the AL Central crown last season. And with every game carrying twice or thrice as much weight as in a normal season, getting off to a good start is paramount. There's no time to dig out of a hole.

The White Sox appear capable of competing alongside their division foes, thanks to their young core breaking out in a big way last season and Rick Hahn's front office going to work to add impact veterans with winning experience over the winter. In fact, should everything go right for the White Sox, they could find themselves the most balanced of the three teams.

The Twins have a thunderous lineup that added perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson in the offseason, but will their pitching staff, past ace José Berríos at the top of the rotation, be able to match the impact of the bats? The Indians, meanwhile, might boast baseball's best starting rotation, but after Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez, two MVP types on the left side of the infield, how will their lineup perform?

RELATED: White Sox rookie Luis Robert confident in 'pretty hot' start to his '20 season

The White Sox have their own questions that need answering — specifically in the starting rotation, though the months-long layoff has allowed them to build some depth in that department — but should a revamped lineup and a talented collection of young arms meet the high expectations the team has set for itself, things could get very interesting as this brief season approaches October.

It's not at all outlandish to suggest that how Renteria will approach the season, as if the White Sox are in first place, is how it could end.


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Richest MLB contract: When Chicago White Sox, Albert Belle made history

Richest MLB contract: When Chicago White Sox, Albert Belle made history

The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes rocked the sports world on Monday when it was reported the two agreed on a 10-year extension worth $450 million. According to Adam Schefter the deal will be the richest in American sports history.

Which got us thinking… remember when it was the White Sox making these headlines?

In 1996, less than 25 years ago, Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox signed Belle to the richest contract in baseball history, a (what is now measly) five-year, $55 million deal. That deal also made Belle the first baseball player to average over $10 million per season.

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While Belle only played two seasons on the South Side, the Sox certainly got their money’s worth for his services. He slugged 79 homers, drove in 268 runs and slashed .301/.366/.571.

Now, that record has been shattered of course. Mike Trout was previously the highest paid American athlete after he signed a 12-year contract extension worth $426.5 million in March of 2019. That number is still good for highest in baseball.

But if you’re looking for the most-expensive free agent signing in baseball, that award goes to Bryce Harper who signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019.


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