White Sox

Flipping the script: How Jose Quintana boosted White Sox for run support

Flipping the script: How Jose Quintana boosted White Sox for run support

There’s something going on with the White Sox, especially for a certain pitcher who was used to getting nothing.

For the previous four seasons, Jose Quintana was widely considered to be the unluckiest player in Major League Baseball for his notorious lack of run support and overwhelming amount of late-game misfortune.

But not anymore.

Quintana has won four straight starts for the first time in his career. He hasn’t had a no-decision since his first start of the season.

You can point to the White Sox improved offense and defense. Or believe what Quintana and his teammate Chris Sale have been doing before every Quintana start since 2013:

Pointing to the sky for help.

“We did it to get some runs for him,” Sale said about their pregame dugout ritual. “We do the two claps, we hug it out.”

Then they look to the heavens.

What do they say?

"I pray to God,” Quintana explained. “Saying 'please, please.’”

Yes, it came to this.

Entering this season, in Quintana’s 119 career starts, the White Sox had scored zero runs for him 18 times, one run 26 times, two runs 28 times and three runs 15 times. Put another way, the White Sox had scored three runs or less in 73 percent of Quintana’s starts. 

It’s tough to win a ballgame when your offense gets home less than a traveling salesman.

As a result, Quintana, one of the best pitchers in baseball, has been saddled with 53 no-decisions since 2012, seven more than anybody else in baseball during that time. In 2013, he established an American League record with 17 no-decisions. That same year he set a White Sox record with seven consecutive no-decisions. If that’s not enough, Quintana’s seven career starts of seven scoreless innings without earning a win are the most in franchise history.

He and Sale were praying, but for three seasons, their prayers were left unanswered.

“Clearly,” Sale said laughing. “It wasn’t working too hot.”

So others started getting involved.

“One day I'm like, ‘You want some runs?’ Let's get some runs today,’” said first base coach Daryl Boston.

This would be a challenge for both men considering Boston is a former White Sox outfielder who hasn’t played in the major leagues since 1994 and Quintana has no hits and 13 strikeouts in 22 career at-bats.

How would they score runs for the White Sox?

“We have our own secret handshake,” said Boston, who is 53 years-old, but can publically admit to having a secret handshake because this is baseball, and that’s what happens when grown men play and coach a child’s game for a living.

After completing his warm-up throws in the bullpen, Quintana arrives in the White Sox dugout, where Boston is always the first one to greet him.

“He’s getting ready for the game. That gets him going,” Boston said about the Quintana handshake. “That’s the first thing we do.”

Then it’s onto a quick cheer to chase the run drought demons away.

They both face each other and shout, “Pagame all day long!” which in Spanglish means, “Pay me all day long.”

Quintana, who has a contract that’s one of the biggest bargains in baseball, doesn’t want to get paid in cash. He wants something else in return.

“Give me some runs!” Quintana and Boston shout at each other. They often use another word in between “some” and “runs.” You can use your imagination.

But despite Sale and Boston’s pleas to the baseball Gods, Quintana’s run of bad luck merely continued and continued. That was until this season, when more of his teammates started getting involved with their own Jose handshakes, hoping to end his wretched run of unfair defeats.

And it’s become a sight to behold.

Now when he arrives in the dugout moments before each start, you have what has become Quintana Conga Line of body motions, hand gestures and physical theater. It’s become a cross between a broadway show and a Latin night club — all in an effort to bring some energy to the team, change Quintana's fortunes and produce more victories for the White Sox.

Carlos Rodon, a normally reserved starting pitcher, has come out of his shell with Quintana like we've never seen before. The two of them fist-pump, wipe imaginary dust off their shoulders, do half a pitching wind-up, embrace with a bear hug and then jump around in a circle.

Before John Danks was designated for assignment, he and Quintana would pretend to play a video game, do a quick salsa move and then take an imaginary selfie.

“It’s a fun thing to watch,” Sale said. “I was talking to (Tyler) Saladino the other day. I told him to pay attention to everything. You can almost watch the energy being created through the handshakes, the momentum, the chirping, the noise. It’s fun.”

So what did Saladino do? He hopped on board.

"Him and I do a pat, pat (with our hands) and make the sound of a cat. That's ours," Saladino said.

The cat comes from an App the two found when they were in the minor leagues together in 2012.

"There was this little cat App, and you could say something into it in English and it would say it out to you in Spanish. And it was in this weird little high pitched voice. The cat's name was Gatito."

So Quintana and Saladino look at each other, put their thumbs on their cheeks, spread their fingers out wide like a cat with whiskers, and make a screeching cat sound.

Seriously.

Who came up with this?

"I think ours was a little more him," Saladino said.

Quintana disagrees.

“His idea," Quintana said. Then he laughed.

With every winning start, more and more of Quintana’s teammates have joined the party.

“He might have a handshake with everybody on the team in the dugout,” Sale said.

How Quintana remembers all of them — and at a rapid fire pace — is anybody’s guess, but you can’t argue with the results — especially when you consider that his four-game winning streak started on April 22nd against Texas.

Remember what happened in that game?

Facing one of the best offenses in baseball, Quintana loaded the bases in the seventh inning. Mitch Moreland drilled a line drive to right field which looked like extra bases and at least two runs.

But it wasn’t.

Adam Eaton raced over and caught the ball. One out. He threw it to first base where Jose Abreu tagged out a dancing Ian Desmond as he tried to get back to the bag. Two outs. Abreu threw home to catcher Dioner Navarro who saw Adrian Beltre caught between second and third. He threw the ball to shortstop Saladino. Prince Fielder broke for home. Saladino tossed the ball to Todd Frazier who placed the tag on Fielder. Three outs. Triple play!

But not just any triple play. It was scored 9-3-2-6-2-5, the first of its kind in the history of major league baseball.

Quintana and the White Sox won the game 5-0.

“If anybody on the field deserves to have that happen for him, it’s Q,” said manager Robin Ventura about Quintana after the victory. “I think it’s a good sign. It’s something he’s earned with what he’s been through.”

And now with an offense, a defense and these berserk antics backing him up for every one of his starts, Quintana is winning — and the curse seems to be lifted.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Sale said. “He deserves it. He works as hard as anybody in there. He’s never had a sour moment, never pointed a finger. I don’t know if anybody has ever come across him that couldn’t like him. If they don’t, then I don’t like them.”

As for Quintana himself, he likes where this is going and believes his prayers are finally being answered.

“Yeah I think so. I hope so yes,” Quintana said. “It's a good thing for us. It's working.”

Even better — Quintana is winning. Finally.

Sox Drawer Q&A: Joe Girardi, Enoy Jimenez and Chris Sale's 'infected' belly button

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Joe Girardi, Enoy Jimenez and Chris Sale's 'infected' belly button

We made it above 60 degrees in Chicago today: A cause for celebration and another edition of the Sox Drawer. Questions from White Sox fans range from Joe Girardi to Enoy Jimenez (yes, Enoy) to Chris Sale’s “infected” belly button. Here we go.

Q: Jon Heyman tweeted out earlier that Joe Girardi pulled out of the Reds managerial search because he wants to wait a year for the Chicago job. Do you think he’s talking about the Sox? — @piratedwight

CG: I don’t know if the report is true or not, but what I do know is that Girardi grew up a Cubs fan and he later played for the Cubs. Put those two together and I’d assume he would love to manage them in the future. Something to consider: The main reason Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave for firing Girardi in 2017 was that he felt he had trouble communicating and connecting with the young players. For a young, rebuilding team like the White Sox, that might be a red flag. Granted, that’s the Yankees' side of the story. Personally, I don’t think he’s interested in managing the White Sox.

Q: Who do you want the Sox to draft with the 3rd pick? Do some research. — @Frankie_OConnor

CG: If you look at most mock drafts right now, you’ll see high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. going first, followed by Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (Nick Madrigal’s teammate) and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers. Rutschman’s stock went way up because of his play in the College World Series, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player. Langeliers won a Gold Glove in 2018, named the best defensive catcher in Division I. He nailed 70 percent of would-be base stealers. Umm, I’ll take that.

The White Sox took Zack Collins with the 10th overall pick in 2016. White Sox scouting director Nick Hostelter always says “take the best player available.” Would they draft another catcher with their top pick again? Possibly.

You know what, why don’t we hear from Hostetler himself? I asked him to describe the talent level at the top of next year’s draft.

“Overall the ‘19 draft has a little bit of everything up top,” Hostetler said. “There are some interesting high school bats and arms, as well as some college bats and a few college arms that are intriguing. I’m not sure there’s a clear top five at this point, but as we’ve seen in past years, the guys sitting at the top of all the lists and mock drafts today usually change come the first Monday in June.”

In other words, let’s talk again in June. The best part about this? The White Sox will be in position to grab a very talented player for their future.

Q: After the most recent international signing of Eloy Jimenez’s brother, Enoy, do you think he could get close to the level of Eloy? Eloy wasn’t a known prospect until a few years ago, keep in mind. — @Dehhmac_

CG: In case you missed it, the White Sox signed Eloy’s 17-year-old brother to a baseball contract Sunday. Eloy posted a photo of him and his smiling brother wearing a White Sox hat and jersey.


By the way, if you do a Google search for “Enoy Jimenez,” Google will ask: “Did you mean Eloy Jimenez?” Even Google can’t believe it.

We don’t know too much about little Enoy. I say little because he’s tiny compared to his big brother. See the video we found on YouTube which was posted a couple of weeks ago. Enoy is wearing a White Sox retro tank top and a Charlotte Knights hat. If anything, he’ll fit right in at SoxFest. Seriously, he has some great baseball DNA, so he’s got that going for him. He’s an infielder. That’s about all we know. As MLB Trade Rumors put it, “scouting information on the younger Jimenez brother is virtually non-existent.”


Q: We know that Rick Hahn plays things close to the vest. In your opinion, do the White Sox view Matt Davidson as a viable two-way option? Personally, I'd like to see how he does in close games. — @emm528

CG: I know Davidson is quite serious about it. I’m not sure about the White Sox side of things. When I asked Don Cooper during the season about the possibility of Davidson having a more permanent role in the bullpen, he seemed skeptical about the idea. That said, if Davidson comes to spring training and impresses the coaching staff, they might be open to it. Davidson told me in September that he needs to train his body during the offseason so he could handle the workload as a pitcher. He just basically winged it in emergency duty last season. At one point after one of his appearances, he needed around two weeks for his body to get back to normal. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull it off.

Q: You got to be by the dugout for most home games this year. What’s something that goes on in the dugout during a game that fans at home wouldn’t know? — @PeteCha56613119

CG: Davidson likes to throw gum at me.

Q: Chris Sale. Discuss. — @sccerlaw​​​​​​​

CG: If you’re asking about Sale getting an infection from a belly-button ring, he was joking. Sale likes to have fun with the media. Remember in 2014, when he tried to work in a specific word during his postgame media scrums? He said things like juxtapose, acquiesce, capitulated, ruminate, amalgamation. Waiting to hear what his next Harvard vocabulary word was one of the highlights of a rough fourth-place season. Sale did miss his start in Game 5 of the ALCS because of an unspecified stomach illness. Keep in mind, he’s probably taking medication for an inflamed shoulder. But he says he’s 100-percent ready now for Game 1 of the World Series.

Q: If the White Sox win the World Series next year will you get a belly button ring? — @vlamas05​​​​​​​

CG: Sure.

Q: Why don't the White Sox have a museum in the park? About 1/3 of the league does and most of those teams have half the history the Sox do. — @Gnome89​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. For this one, I went right to the source and asked Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“We used to have a small museum that fans could walk through which was attached to our team store," Boyer said. "Years ago, we converted that space as demand for a wider selection of retail products grew. We do have a museum-like historical display in the Magellan Scout Seats and have put many of the significant moments in our history on the columns leading to the sections on the 100 level. This past season we had a Negro League Museum traveling display in the Chicago Sports Depot.

"We continue to look for ways to display our history, and the Depot may very well be the best place, but, at this point, there are no plans for a permanent museum location.”

Q: Who do you see the White Sox going after in free agency this year? — @Grank2410​​​​​​​

CG: I wrote about my top five free agents last week. I don’t know for sure who the White Sox will sign, but I’d like to see them add a veteran hitter or two who have playoff experience, who know what it takes to win and can impart that on the young hitters.

Q: When will the Sox change their uniforms? — @ckottlarock​​​​​​​

CG: Personally, I’d wear the 1983 throwbacks for every game, home and away. But that’s just me.

Q: Can we please not get Machado? Can we get Nolan Arenado instead? — @drobaseball555​​​​​​​

CG: Rick Hahn, if you’re reading this, @drobaseball555 wants Arenado. Got it?

Thanks everyone for all of your questions. We’ll do it again next week.

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Update: Our Chuck Garfien found this video of Enoy taking some cuts with his big brother — all decked out in White Sox gear, too.