White Sox

Josh Phegley finds comfort with Oakland A's

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Josh Phegley finds comfort with Oakland A's

OAKLAND -- Josh Phegley’s insider knowledge may have helped his new teammates against Carlos Rodon on Friday night.

The Oakland A’s catcher and ex-Sox prospect homered and gave his new teammates a pretty good scouting report on Rodon in a game the White Sox rallied to win 7-6. Phegley -- who is not in the starting lineup Saturday -- caught Rodon three times at Triple-A Charlotte last season. Not that it’s much of a secret, but Phegley, who came to Oakland along with Marcus Semien in the six-player deal that sent Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox, told teammates to look for Rodon’s slider when they were behind in the count.

“I tried to give these guys a little insight,” Phegley said. “Everyone in baseball knows he has a good slider by now. I told them it’s his go-to pitch if he wants to put you away. A lot of guys over here said he’s going to be a really good pitcher if he can locate his fastball and get a little more control and command. We saw good things from him, and he was just out of the strike zone a lot. I spent some time with him last year. He’s a good kid, and he’s going to have a good career.”

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Phegley believes the move to the A’s has given him a fresh outlook.

With Stephen Vogt performing like an All-Star, Phegley mostly only plays against left-handed pitching and has been limited to 43 plate appearances so far. Still, he has more certainty than he did with the White Sox, who traded him shortly after they claimed Rob Brantly off waivers in December. Phegley -- the White Sox starter at the end of the 2013 season -- didn’t expect a trade but feels like everything has worked in his favor.

“I can get comfortable in that role and know what my job is,” Phegley said. “I’m just trying to do the best I can against left-handed starters and get a few pinch hits every now and again against lefties. I’ve enjoyed it. I love the team over here, a good group of guys. I know we’re battling right now to get in the win column, but we have a good team and I think we still have the faith that we’re going to do well.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”