White Sox

Former White Sox Ken Griffey Jr. elected to HOF, Tim Raines inches closer


Former White Sox Ken Griffey Jr. elected to HOF, Tim Raines inches closer

One former White Sox outfielder set a new Hall of Fame election record on Wednesday while another moved closer to enshrinement.

Ken Griffey Jr. was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after he received 99.3 percent of the vote. Griffey Jr., who played 41 games for the White Sox in 2008 when they won the American League Central, was named on all but three of the 440 ballots in his bid to become the first player unanimously elected.

Meanwhile, Tim Raines, who played for the White Sox from 1991-95, moved significantly closer to an induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y. as he received a personal-high 69.8 percent (307 of 440) of the vote.

Raines, who only has one year of eligibility left, saw an increase just shy of 15 percent after he received 55.0 in 2015. A seven-time All-Star, Raines is fifth all-time in career stolen bases and is 71st among all position players in Wins Above Replacement (69.1), according to baseball-reference.com.

Raines took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the BBWAA for considering his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Raines is headed into his final year of candidacy in 2017 after a rule change prior to the 2015 election. Whereas players used to remain on the ballot for up to 15 years, the Hall of Fame altered the rules so that current eligible candidates only had 10 years. Players who were already in years 11-15, a group that included Alan Trammell, Jack Morris and Lee Smith, were grandfathered in.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The change meant that Raines, who first became eligible for the HOF in 2008, only had three more chances at election. Raines, who produced 16.0 WAR in five seasons with the White Sox, received 24.3 percent of the votes in his first year of eligibility. He has since jumped up — and inexplicably down twice — in the last eight years. Raines received 22.6 percent in 2009, 30.4 in 2010, 37.5 in 2011, 48.7 in 2012, 52.2 in 2013 and 46.1 in 2014.

The case for Raines — who finished with a career on-base percentage of .385 and OPS of .810 — has gained traction over the years. He finished fourth in the 2016 voting process. Jeff Bagwell improved his chances as well with a 71.6-percent showing, about 15 votes shy of the 75-percent mark to gain entry. Mike Piazza received 83 percent.

Griffey — who hit three of his 630 homers with the White Sox after he was acquired on July 31, 2008 from Cincinnati — broke Tom Seaver’s record for highest percentage of votes received. In 1992, Seaver received 98.84 of the vote. The Kid is also the first-ever No. 1 overall pick to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Closer Trevor Hoffman received 67.3 percent in his first year of eligibility. Curt Schilling received 52.3 percent while Roger Clemens increased to 45.2 and Barry Bonds to 44.3.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'


Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one


Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.