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.”

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

The White Sox lost Saturday night.

That’s baseball, of course, they’re not all going to be winners. And this rebuilding franchise has seen plenty of losses. But the feelings have been so good of late — whether because of Eloy Jimenez’s 400-foot homers or Lucas Giolito’s Cy Young caliber season to this point or a variety of other positive signs that make the White Sox future so bright — that losing Saturday to the first-place New York Yankees seemed rather sour.

Obviously there will be plenty more losses for this White Sox team before the book closes on the 2019 campaign. Back under .500, these South Siders aren’t expected to reach elite status before all the pieces arrive, and it would be no shock if they’re removed from the playoff race in the American League by the time crunch time rolls around in September.

But don’t tell these White Sox that an 8-4 defeat is a return to reality or a reminder that this team is still a work in progress. Even if, for a lot of players, development is still occurring at the major league level, the “learning experiences” that have been such a large part of the conversation surrounding this team in recent seasons and their daily goal of winning baseball games aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The Yankees are sitting in first place and they lost two games in a row,” catcher James McCann said Saturday night, providing a reminder of how the first two games of this weekend series went. “Just because you're expected to win and expected to be World Series contenders doesn't mean you're not going to lose ballgames. It's how you bounce back.

“And it doesn't mean you're going to win tomorrow, either. It's just, how do you handle a defeat? How do you handle a bad at-bat? How do you handle a bad outing, whatever it may be? But it doesn't mean that we step back and say, ‘Oh, we're back under .500, we're supposed to lose.’

“We expect to win when we show up to the ballpark. You can take learning experiences whether you win or lose. Do I think a game like tonight reminds us we're supposed to be in a rebuilding mode? No. We still expect to win, and we're going to show up tomorrow with that mentality.”

Maybe that’s a description of the much-discussed “learning to win” young teams supposedly need to do on the road to contender status. Maybe that can’t happen until a team figures out how to bounce back from a defeat — until it learns how to lose and how to act in the wake of a loss.

For all McCann’s certainty about the team’s expectations on a daily basis, his explanation was peppered with questions. He said he’s seen the answer to “how do you bounce back?” from this club, and his three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday night was fairly convincing evidence that the White Sox didn’t use up all their fight just getting back to .500.

So while the White Sox know they won’t win every game — that no team will — they need to know how they handle defeat. Losing, it turns out, might end up being more instructive about when this team is ready to win.

“I think we've done a pretty good job (bouncing back),” McCann said. “You look at the road trip in Houston and Minnesota where we took two out of four from a good Houston team and then played really not very good baseball for three days in Minnesota only to come home and have an extremely good homestand.

“It's the big picture. It's not the very next day. It's not, ‘We've got to bounce back and win.’ It's not a must-win situation in the middle of June. But it's how do you handle yourself? How does a game like tonight, do you show up flat tomorrow and let it snowball into a three-, four-game spiral? Or do you fight?

“And that's what this team's been really good at doing is fighting and not giving in.”

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Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

The temperature is rising on the South Side, and if you look outside, you know it has nothing to do with Mother Nature.

Instead, it’s a heat wave coming from a fresh-faced 22-year-old slugger who’s crushing baseballs, igniting a fan base and screaming “Hi Mom!” to his actual mother whenever he spots a TV camera with its red light on.

Eloy Jimenez has arrived with the White Sox, and according to a New York Yankees All Star who has known him for years, the best is yet to come.

“Not this year, but next year, he’s going to be even better,” infielder Gleyber Torres said about Jimenez.

The two of them were signed by that team across town in 2013 when they were both 16 years old. They were practically inseparable back then, and they remain tight to this day.

“I talk with Gleyber pretty much every single day now. He’s kind of like my brother,” Jimenez said. “We haven’t lost that communication, and I think that’s good for us.”

Torres echoed similar thoughts about Jimenez.

“In my first couple years with the Cubs, he was my roommate every day. We’ve got a really good relationship. We’re like brothers. We are really good friends,” Torres said. “I’m just happy to see what he’s doing right now.”

Which, lately, has been just about everything.

There was that majestic home run Jimenez belted on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals that landed on the center field concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field, the two walks the next day when the Yankees decided to pitch around Jimenez as if he was a perennial All Star, and then the two-homer game on Friday: The first one gave the White Sox the lead, the second stuck a dagger into the Yankees, as well as the heart of his longtime friend.

“For sure, I didn’t like it,” Torres said with a smile about Jimenez’s two-homer, six-RBI game. “I’m not surprised. I knew Eloy before he signed with the Cubs out of the Dominican. He’s a big dude. The power is coming every day.”

How good can Jimenez be? Torres, who plays on a star-studded team with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius, sees Jimenez reaching the same stratosphere.

“He can be a star for all of MLB. He’s just a young guy right now, but when he matures a little more, he can do everything.”

Jimenez is turning up the heat in Chicago, and it’s not even summer yet.

The South Side can’t wait for the sizzle to come.

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