White Sox

Jake Petricka headed to Triple-A to start rehab assignment


Jake Petricka headed to Triple-A to start rehab assignment

CLEVELAND — Jake Petricka appears close to a return as he’s headed out on a rehab assignment.

The White Sox reliever is expected to pitch at Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday and again on Saturday, at which point he’ll be evaluated. Petricka, who finished last season with a 2.96 ERA, has been on the 15-day disabled list since last month with a sore right forearm.

All reports from a 25-pitch session held Monday have been good, manager Robin Ventura said. Ventura has said he hopes Petricka could return to the White Sox by this weekend.

“He threw good,” Ventura said. “We’re monitoring that. Everything went well and looks pretty good. Hopefully he’s on track, but we’re not going to announce anything yet.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

“It won’t be that long. … But he’s done well.

“He’s feeling good.”

Contenders? Maybe not quite yet, but the White Sox are steaming toward that status

Contenders? Maybe not quite yet, but the White Sox are steaming toward that status

Last week, James McCann called the White Sox contenders.

For the catcher in the midst of an All-Star season, a guy who’s taken his career to a new level in just a few months with the team, he had reason to be optimistic.

The White Sox were in the middle of an extended period of feel-goodery. This wasn’t even 24 hours after Eloy Jimenez hit that game-winning home run in his first game against the team that traded him, an exclamation point on the franchise’s recent rebuilding progress, which has been on display all season long in the forms of Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, McCann and now Jimenez.

The positive signs have been impossible to miss, stabilizing the notion that the White Sox future is incredibly bright. And inside the clubhouse, the players are seeing their preseason talk get backed up, in certain ways. During spring training, they argued the focus should be placed on the present as much as the future. And after two seasons of little more than waiting for the future, there is definitely reason to pay attention to the present.

“The thing for me is you look around here and guys are still competing,” McCann said from inside the visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field, “despite losing a (Carlos) Rodon, despite not having (Michael) Kopech this year, despite the injuries to Nate Jones, guys like that who were supposed to be big-time contributors. And it's kind of been that next-man-up mentality.

“So I'd say at this point in the season, this team is a contender. Who knows what's going to happen down the road. But you have guys in Triple-A that are coming up. You've got a guy like (Zack) Collins here to contribute. We're one, two pieces away from making a big-time statement in this division.”

Surely, Collins was ready to contribute. The day McCann made those comments, Collins drew a walk in his first major league plate appearance. Two nights later in Texas, he smacked a three-run homer for his first big league hit. It was more positive news for the rebuild, a guy who’s a big part of Rick Hahn’s long-term plans immediately announcing his presence.

The White Sox lost that game, though. Since Jimenez’s game-winning heroics and McCann’s “contender” comments, the White Sox have dropped three of their four games.

One series loss in Arlington, Texas, in June is not going to be the determining factor of whether the White Sox can compete for a playoff spot this season. But for all the whispers of postseason potential, the White Sox are just 8-10 this month. Don’t get me wrong, that’s an improvement on what fans watched over the last two seasons. The White Sox current 36-39 record is vastly preferable to the 195 losses the team suffered during the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.

But that’s what seems to be brewing as the grand conclusion from this season at this moment: The White Sox are better, but they’re not there yet.

They woke up Monday — ahead of a series in Boston that will start with another Giolito start and end with another matchup against former mate Chris Sale — five games out of the second wild-card spot in the American League. That technically counts as being “in it,” though losing a series to the Texas Rangers over the weekend ought to provide some evidence that the White Sox are still mid-climb.

Rebuilding progress does not equal an immediate windfall of victories. As White Sox fans well know from the last two-plus seasons, processes like these take time. Sometimes they take a lot of time. Ask the first-place Houston Astros, who have been atop baseball’s mountain for several years now, but only after enduring 416 losses from 2011 to 2014. Another 100-loss season doesn’t seem to be a danger for these White Sox, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be in a pennant race, either.

That shouldn’t come as a disappointment, though. It should come as just the opposite, in fact. These White Sox are undoubtedly different — undoubtedly better — than the couple of White Sox teams that came before them. Don’t just look at the win-loss totals or take my word for it, ask someone who knows.

“One of the things that I notice is the constant fight,” said McCann, who spent the first five years of his big league career playing against the White Sox with the division-rival Detroit Tigers. “There were days playing against the Sox last year where — I don't want to say they didn't have fight — but we'd take a lead on them and say, ‘OK, we feel comfortable.’

“Now, I look at the scoreboard and we might be down 7-1 and I feel comfortable that we're going to make a comeback. So an outsider watching the team and now being an insider, a part of the team, it's a culture of complete buy-in. No one guy's more important than the other, and guys truly want their locker-mate to succeed. It's been a lot of fun to be a part of.

“Playing against them, I get to have conversations with guys. Not that I get to know people, but I get to see where they come from and how they view different things, just in a few conversations that we get to have. So I knew the talent that was here, it was just a matter of guys putting it all together. You're starting to see that.

“By no means is it a finished product, but in all reality, there's no team that's a finished product until they win Game 7 of the World Series. That's when you're a finished product.”

And things should only continue to progress as this season moves along. Dylan Cease is expected to join Collins as a much heralded prospect up from Triple-A Charlotte before summer’s end. Luis Robert continues to scorch minor league pitching at such a rate, that seeing him on the South Side before the end of the season isn’t a ridiculous thought, even if the more realistic route might be for the White Sox to wait until 2020 to give Robert his first taste of the majors. And of course, Giolito and Anderson and Moncada and Jimenez figure to keep developing in their own right and getting better as time moves along.

By the time 2020 rolls around, it looks like the puzzle could be complete enough to elevate the White Sox to true contender status. Giolito, Anderson, Moncada, Jimenez, McCann, Collins, Cease, Robert, Kopech, Rodon. Maybe Nick Madrigal will arrive, maybe Jose Abreu will return, maybe Alex Colome will be too important a 2020 asset for Hahn to sell high on in 2019.

McCann should keep on feeling optimistic, and White Sox fans should, too. That bright future isn’t as far off as the word “future” might have made it seem over the past couple years. Even if it’s not here quite yet.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

The young players that figure to feature heavily in the future of the White Sox have had quite a week.

It started with Lucas Giolito being the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins, then Eloy Jimenez blasted a big go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in his first crosstown game against the Cubs. Now, Zack Collins has added his own blast of optimism to the White Sox young core.

The 24-year-old made his first major league start on Friday in Texas and delivered a three-run home run in his first at-bat. It was his second MLB plate appearance after he drew a pinch-hit walk Wednesday in Wrigley.

After the White Sox beat the Rangers 5-4 in 10 innings, Collins talked to Jason Benetti and Steve Stone on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast.

“Honestly I was just in shock,” Collins said. “I was running around the bases. It seemed like it lasted like three seconds and I felt myself sprinting around second so I had to slow it down and enjoy the moment, but it was an awesome time.”

Collins finished 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, but that is Collins’ game. He’s going to strikeout a lot and his batting average probably won’t be pretty. He has a career .234 batting average in the minors (.250 in Triple-A Charlotte this year), but he coupled that with a .378 on-base percentage and big power.

In his five trips to the plate on Friday, Collins saw 22 pitches. He’s going to work the count and sometimes he’s going to run into home runs.

“It was smooth,” Collins said. “I just kind of put the ball in play and the ball flew. I really don’t know. It was kind of a blur to me. It was obviously a big moment for me.”

Collins was called up Tuesday morning ahead of the first game against the Cubs. He didn’t play that game, but the pinch-hit walk on Wednesday helped take out some of the nerves.

“On Wednesday night I stepped up, I had a little bit of jitters, had a little bit of butterflies and stuff, but I think that was the point of getting in there on Wednesday and getting all that out,” Collins said. “It felt good tonight.”

Collins still hasn’t played catcher since he got called up. He was the DH in Friday’s lineup. That didn’t stop his dad from being excited about his first start.

“I was pumped,” Collins said of when he saw he was in the lineup. “I immediately texted my dad and told him I was in there. He told me good luck, play hard, do your thing. Obviously it started off well and we got a big win tonight so it was fun.”

As of the postgame interview, Collins didn’t yet have his home run ball. However, it sounded like he was able to make a deal with a fan for it.

“Somebody said they did get the ball,” Collins said. “I think I have to make a little trade with somebody.”


Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.