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.

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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.”

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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.”

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.