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.”

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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.”

The next Mark Buehrle? Maybe Dallas Keuchel is best bet for White Sox in free agency

The next Mark Buehrle? Maybe Dallas Keuchel is best bet for White Sox in free agency

SAN DIEGO — We've talked a lot about Madison Bumgarner. We've wondered why the White Sox aren't more heavily linked to Gerrit Cole. We watched as they made the high bid for Zack Wheeler, only for him to take less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Maybe the best answer for the White Sox starting-pitching problem is someone else entirely. Maybe it's the next Mark Buehrle.

That's a comp that ought to get White Sox fans excited. After all Buehrle is one of the biggest icons in franchise history, a tremendous pitcher, defender and World Series winner. Well, Dallas Keuchel fits those descriptions, too, and it led to one bold prediction from one of the most plugged-in people in the game as the Winter Meetings got started Monday.

"My prediction is — not sourced reporting, this is a prediction — that Dallas Keuchel is a White Sock (by the end of the Winter Meetings)," MLB.com's Jon Morosi said on the White Sox Talk Podcast. "He reminds me — his ability to field the position, lefty — there’s a little Buehrle there with Keuchel. I think that he fits, and I would hope that’s part of the White Sox sales pitch to him.

"I look at Buehrle and Keuchel as being similar pitchers, both athletic. There’s something about Keuchel pitching in that uniform that looks right to me."

OK, so maybe it's less of a comp and more of a hunch, but indeed there are similarities between the two. They're both four-time Gold Glove winners. They both won a World Series, Buehrle with the White Sox in 2005 and Keuchel with the Houston Astros in 2017. They're both left-handed, something that the White Sox could use right now to balance out their right-handed heavy rotation.

Perhaps most importantly for the White Sox, Keuchel is presently available. He's one of three oft-discussed mid-tier free-agent pitchers, along with Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who could be on the White Sox radar in the wake of Wheeler's decision to pitch in Philly. Rick Hahn's front office showed with its reported high bid for Wheeler that it's willing to spend big to add to the rotation. Perhaps the gargantuan sum speculated to go to Cole is a tad outside the realm of possibility — for many more teams than just the White Sox — but Keuchel could be the guy the team's been trying to find to pair with Lucas Giolito at the top of the rotation.

Keuchel has the experience of going through a rebuild and coming out the other end a world champion, helpful in telling these young White Sox how to get it done. He's done something Buehrle never did: capture a Cy Young Award, which he won in 2015. More recently, he helped lead the Atlanta Braves to an NL East championship, posting a 3.75 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 112.2 innings over 19 starts in 2019.

Most importantly, perhaps, Keuchel would provide stability and reliability in a rotation that, while talented, has plenty of question marks. Will Giolito's transformation be permanent? Will Michael Kopech be the same flamethrower he was prior to Tommy John surgery? Will Dylan Cease shake off a rocky first taste of the big leagues? Will Reynaldo Lopez find some consistency? Will Carlos Rodon be able to contribute much in 2020?

Keuchel comes with far fewer question marks, and hearing his name next to Buehrle's should give White Sox fans a clearer picture of what he could bring to the South Side.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: MLB.com's Jon Morosi joins to discuss Gerrit Cole and the Sox meaning business this winter

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: MLB.com's Jon Morosi joins to discuss Gerrit Cole and the Sox meaning business this winter

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber are at the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi joins them to discuss the latest on Gerrit Cole (0:30) and the White Sox meaning business this winter (3:00). Plus, Jon says who he thinks is more likely to land in the Sox outfield: Marcell Ozuna or Nicholas Castellanos? (5:00)

When all is said and done, what will the White Sox do this week? The four guys give their predictions. Morosi expects a big name, free-agent starter to come to the South Side. (12:00)

Chuck, Guff and Vinnie then discuss what is fact and fiction about Marcell Ozuna (18:00) and have more of the rumors from Day 1 of the Winter Meetings.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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