White Sox

Jimmy Rollins on key tag-up: 'That's just playing winning baseball'

Jimmy Rollins on key tag-up: 'That's just playing winning baseball'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Gold Glover Kevin Kiermaier was out, Alex Colome was in and Todd Frazier’s fly ball was in just the right spot where Jimmy Rollins knew he had to advance at all costs.

The veteran White Sox shortstop impacted yet another game in the ninth inning on Friday night when he set up Melky Cabrera’s game-winning hit by tagging up and moving into scoring position. Cabrera’s two-out single to right off Colome gave the White Sox their first lead, and Chris Sale closed out a 1-0 complete-game, shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

“That’s just playing winning baseball,” said Rollins, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2007. “They aren’t little things. Paying attention. Playing smart baseball. Knowing what to do in situations.

“You do those things to win. Neither pitcher deserved to lose, and Sale was able to go all nine to get the win.”

Rollins had a lot more on his mind than whether or not replay officials would overturn his leadoff single in the ninth, a ball that just skipped in front of a diving Desmond Jennings in left.

He knew he had to get into scoring position at all costs. He knew that Colome is quick to the plate and impossible to run on. And he knew that Kiermaier was no longer patrolling center field as he and Logan Forsythe both exited after a fourth-inning collision.

As soon as he saw that Todd Frazier’s one-out fly ball to right center would force Tampa Bay outfielders Corey Dickerson and Brandon Guyer to converge, Rollins headed back, tagged up and easily sped into scoring position.

“To have instincts of how far it is, and both of those guys were getting really close to each other,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “So it wasn’t like one of them could back up and get some momentum going on the throw. That’s really where Jimmy took advantage of it.”

Dickerson’s a good outfielder, but he doesn’t possess a cannon like Kiermaier. Rollins had it in his mind he would force the Rays to make a play.

“I know how important it is to get to second base,” Rollins said. “(Colome is) just too quick to home to take a shot right there. The clock says you just can’t do it. Both guys were converging on the ball and neither was giving up ground, so I knew that would give me at least a step and a half. If it was going to be clean, you are going to have to throw me out. I know how important it is to get to second base in scoring position for a single.”

Cabrera immediately perked up in the on-deck circle realizing he’d have a chance to put his team ahead. Two pitches later, Cabrera ripped a fastball to right, and Dickerson’s throw home wasn’t in time to throw out Rollins.

“That was a very good play (by Rollins),” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “He played aggressive and found an opportunity to get a base and he did it. In the end it gave us the victory.”

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

0521-welington-castillo.jpg
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?

rick_hahn_usa_today.jpg
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: