White Sox

How technology has helped Jose Abreu maintain his swing

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How technology has helped Jose Abreu maintain his swing

Prior to his three-hit night Monday, one that helped him break out of a mini-slump, Jose Abreu toted his iPad with him to the batting cage.

On occasion, the White Sox slugger brings his tablet and its camera into the cage and shoots footage of that day’s session with hitting coach Todd Steverson and assistant coach Harold Baines. Hitless in 13 straight at-bats through the first inning on Monday, Abreu wanted to determine why he felt out of whack. Though he doesn’t always do it, Abreu has employed the practice for four years now and its one he feels helps him to make proper adjustments.

“Usually I do that when I don’t feel good at the plate,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I do that to try to identify what I’m doing wrong, especially mechanically. That’s the way I identify the mistakes and try to fix it.”

The identification process has become considerably easier for Abreu in the last year or so. He began shooting some of his batting practices when he played for Cienfuegos with the help of a coach, who used his cell phone to record the sessions.

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Since he joined the White Sox, Abreu upgraded to the iPad, which allows him to not only record those sessions but also keep them on file. Abreu has none of the sessions from Cuba but has almost every one since he switched to the tablet. The catalog allows him to compare his current swing to previous instances when he felt like he was hitting the ball well.

“That is very helpful because I’m always trying to learn from the baseball standpoint,” Abreu said. “Every day is a lesson and if you have the resources to keep learning every day from the past, that’s something that is going to help you improve for today and getting better every day.”

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Abreu rarely brings the iPad into the cage. Steverson stresses to players that the pitches they’re swinging at are as of much importance to the process. But he also appreciates that Abreu wants to give himself an extra tool to make sure he gets his swing back on track.

“We have enough video of games that he just wants to see probably his work is the same, his movement is the same,” Steverson said. “That’s a personal thing for most guys. It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s a feel. If you can’t feel it you want to see it to figure out what the feel is again. I encourage everybody to do what they want to find their feel back.”

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Abreu said the practice has helped do just that. Having reviewed his swing again and again over the years, Abreu has a good feel for the proper triggers to a successful path to the plate. Whereas Tony Gwynn used to lug a VCR on the road with him to record games to look at his swing, Abreu also knows how advances in technology have made the process much, much easier for players.

“It’s very stunning to realize how the technology has changed and the times have changed,” Abreu said. “Now we can do it easier.

“It’s something that helps you a lot.

“I can identify it very, very quick of what and where is the problem. That’s something that is very easy for me. I think that’s also because I understand me very well and I know what is my approach and what are my mechanics and that doesn’t take too much time.”

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: