White Sox

How Jose Abreu, Rick Renteria played pivotal roles in White Sox presentation for Luis Robert

How Jose Abreu, Rick Renteria played pivotal roles in White Sox presentation for Luis Robert

SEATTLE -- A legend in Cuba, the man they simply know as ‘Pito,’ Jose Abreu played a large role in the White Sox pitch to young Cuban outfielder Luis Robert.

Same for Yoan Moncada. White Sox manager Rick Renteria had a big hand in it, too.

Robert, 19, reportedly signed a deal worth $25-30 million with the White Sox on Saturday afternoon. The yet-to-be-announced signing is another significant move for the rebuilding White Sox in their quest to accumulate as much high-end, controllable talent as possible. Robert likely slots into the team’s farm system as the No. 3 prospect behind Moncada and Michael Kopech.

One way the White Sox endeared themselves to Robert was with a video presentation narrated in Spanish by Renteria with plugs from Abreu and Moncada, who implored the youngster to join them in Chicago. Hours before Robert signed with the White Sox he switched the avatar on his Instagram account a picture of him wearing the team’s hat.

Abreu’s message undoubtedly was genuine, coming from a man who not only loves how he has been received by White Sox fans, but also was floored at how well the team treated Cuban icon Minnie Minoso until his death in 2015.

“From the bottom of my heart, that is something that is very special to me,” Abreu said through an interpreter on Friday. “I really appreciate that. The way this team has treated the Cuban players and the Latino players in general, that’s something that is important and I really, really appreciate it.”

When Abreu signed, he was the 17th Cuban to have suited up for the White Sox. Two months later, the team added catcher Adrian Nieto in the Rule 5 draft and they’ve since acquired Moncada.

[MORE: Video pitch helps White Sox sign potential cornerstone Luis Robert to loaded farm system]

Abreu recalled on Friday how he had known about more recent White Sox players who hailed from Cuba such as Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Jose Contreras and ‘El Duque’ Orlando Hernandez. But he didn’t know as much about Minoso — who was a club ambassador at the time — until his elder countrymen took him under his wing and became a father figure to Abreu. Abreu said learning about Minoso’s dealings with the White Sox made his transition to the United States significantly easier.

“Once I left the island, that was when I learned more about who else was here and I met Minnie,” Abreu said. “I heard about his story with the team and all the things that he did.”

The White Sox also have an edge over the rest of baseball in that Renteria is the only Spanish-speaking manager at the major league level, another layer to his skillset that was noted in the presentation. Renteria said earlier this week that he knows that his ability to bridge the communication gap is significant in a game where the Spanish-speaking population continues to rise.

While it’s merely another attribute that he brings to the table among many, Renteria, who was the first U.S.-born member of his family (his parents and four older brothers were born in Mexico), knows his background can be a valuable tool.

“Is there value to my cultural experience and how I grew up and the experiences I’ve had in general?” Renteria said. “Yeah. Absolutely. No question about it. I’ll take advantage of it to the extent that I can get the most value out of the players playing for me both Anglo and/or African American and/or Hispanic.

“I think in general we should be able to cross all bridges to be able to communicate with all players. Is it simpler for me? Yeah, I am Spanish speaking since I was little. That helps a lot. My language skills in Spanish have actually gotten better over the years -- correcting and checking to make sure you’re saying things the right way.

“You might speak the same language in terms of the words. But if your message isn’t very good it doesn’t matter what language you speak, it isn’t going to get across.”

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

It appears Eloy Jimenez is heating up.

The White Sox rookie outfielder didn’t get off to a great start this season, but he showed flashes of his potential. Then, he went down with injury and missed more than three weeks.

After going 0-for-7 in his first two games back from injury, Jimenez broke out with two home runs on Wednesday. He followed that up with another bomb on Thursday in a 4-0 win in Houston.

The fact that Jimenez stringing home runs together wasn't the big story of the game is a testament to Lucas Giolito's impressive outing on the mound.

Jimenez now has as many home runs in the four games since coming back from injury (3) as he had in his first 21 games before going down. That’s far too small of a sample size to say the time off did anything productive for Jimenez, but the 22-year-old is showing the power he was known for in the minors.

Overall, Jimenez is hitting .234/.280/.447. The average and on-base percentage are lower than expected considering he was a career .311 hitter in the minors. However, eight of his 22 hits in the majors have gone for extra bases, with six of those being home runs.

Thursday’s home run went 414 feet after he blasted shots of 419 and 417 feet the night before.

He also had some fun with the camera in the dugout and then had some fun in the field by celebrating a diving catch with a laugh.

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After rain-shortened complete game last time out, Lucas Giolito goes the distance for real against Astros

After rain-shortened complete game last time out, Lucas Giolito goes the distance for real against Astros

Lucas Giolito technically had a complete game in his last start, but it was a five-inning rain-shortened complete game.

Giolito himself said he didn’t count that as a complete game.

“I don't consider it a complete game until I get nine,” said after the May 18 win against the Blue Jays.

Giolito got his nine Thursday in Houston. The 24-year-old right-hander went the distance and shutout the Astros.

In a postgame interview on NBC Sports Chicago with broadcasters Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Giolito laughed when talking about the five-inning complete game. He said he had a couple seven-inning complete games in the minor leagues, but had never gone this deep into a game in his professional career.

“Never got to the ninth inning in my career so it’s a special moment for me,” Giolito said.

When Yuli Gurriel popped out to third base for the last out of the game, Giolito immediately started emphatically clapping his hand into his glove with excitement. He then gave catcher James McCann a high five and a hug.

He limited the Astros to four hits and one walk and used 107 pitches for the complete game. Giolito added nine strikeouts.

Entering the ninth inning, Giolito said there was no discussion from manager Rick Renteria or anyone else about having the bullpen close out the 4-0 win.

“I knew my pitch count was low enough to go out there so there was no need to talk about it,” Giolito said.

This is the third time the Astros, which are tied for the MLB lead in wins at 33, have been shutout this season. They hadn’t been shutout in Houston since Sept. 19 of last season.

Entering Thursday, the Astros led all of baseball in team batting average, on-base percentage and OPS so there’s nothing cheap about this Giolito performance.

“I just felt good today,” Giolito said. “I had a lot of first-pitch strikes. I kept it efficient. I was taking a look at the pitch counts around the seventh and I was like ‘OK, I think if we stay on the same page I think we’re going to get this.’”

Immediately after he said that he got the postgame ice bucket shower from Jose Rondon.

Giolito has been on a heck of a run lately and his season ERA dropped below 3 with this outing. He now has a 2.77 ERA on the season, which is 15th best in baseball.

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