White Sox

Life coach: Jimmy Rollins' mentorship of Tim Anderson extends off the field

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Life coach: Jimmy Rollins' mentorship of Tim Anderson extends off the field

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmy Rollins has been a mentor to prospect Tim Anderson since he joined White Sox camp last week just as the team hoped.

But so far, the focus has been on a different due date than when Anderson is expected to arrive in the majors. On Sunday, the team’s top prospect is scheduled to travel to Georgia for the birth of his daughter. The team has excused Anderson for several days and doctors are expected to induce labor on March 7.

So while their future discussions may include pitch selection and positioning at the bag, for now Anderson and Rollins have talked about family obligations and being a father.

“Just life, really,” Anderson said. “Off the field stuff — what to expect when you get to the big leagues and family issues, whatever. We talk about a lot.

“I’m kind of talking about when I have a girl. He’s just saying ‘Enjoy it.’”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jimmy Rollins likes opportunity to 'fight for a position' with White Sox]

Before Rollins arrived, Anderson thought he might be star struck around the veteran shortstop. Anderson said he loved to watch Rollins play throughout his career and expected he might be in awe. But Anderson wasted no time in approaching Rollins and he hasn’t shied away from asking questions, either.

Rollins — who has two daughters of his own — said topics have varied but he likes how Anderson looks at the big picture.

“He’s a real good kid,” Rollins said. “He’s just looking for people to make sure that he’s in the right direction and that’s a good thing. You’ve got kids that are out there looking to get in trouble and he’s like, ‘No.’

“Good way to go about it.”

The White Sox thought they would get much more than just a shortstop when they signed Rollins to a minor-league deal earlier this month. Rollins’ teammates on the Los Angeles Dodgers praised him for his leadership, and top prospect Corey Seager said the ex-National League MVP’s mentorship has been a huge influence.

The White Sox have been pleased to see how Rollins has interacted with both Anderson and Tyler Saladino. Not only is Rollins competing to take over as the starting shortstop, he doubles as a sounding board for the team’s future pieces.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Young White Sox shortstops eager to work with Jimmy Rollins]

“This is exactly what you would expect from him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s taking care of his own business and also has the ability to put his arm around somebody and take somebody under his wing. Timmy I’m sure watched him grow up and idolized him. To have somebody as classy as Jimmy, we’re fortunate to have that, especially for Tim.”

It hasn’t been strictly off the field topics for Rollins and Anderson.

Rollins has watched Anderson work and noted — “he has some hands — he’s quick.” He also likes how Anderson listens and thinks that should help him adapt.

One area they may discuss later is Anderson using criticism as a motivator. Anderson admits he knows some observers wonder whether he’ll stick at shortstop and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He occasionally Tweets about those reviews and how he uses them as motivation.

“That’s just the word out there that I can’t play so I just want to everybody I can,” Anderson said. “That’s just in my mind, everybody’s saying I can’t play that position and it really keeps me going and makes me work harder to prove I can stay there.”

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Rollins thinks criticism can be a good motivator if properly used. Fellow Bay Area native Tom Brady is a perfect example as he uses it to find a way to stay inspired, Rollins said. But he wants to make sure Anderson doesn’t allow criticism to eat away at him.

“You don’t need to read that stuff to know who you are, to know if you had a good game or a bad game, to know where you need to work on, to know what you do well,” Rollins said. “You know that yourself. You can read 100 articles and 90 of them are excellent. But you’ll spending the rest of your time worrying about the 10 and why these 10 articles are written as such about me. Some people, it’s motivating and other people it can destroy. If he’s able to do that and balance it, then that’s good. It’s something I’ll definitely talk to him about.”

They have only worked together for a week and already Anderson said he’s learned a lot from Rollins. Not only have they discussed fatherhood, other familial obligations have come up. Anderson said he feels fortunate to have Rollins around.

“No is a powerful word,” Anderson of Rollins’ best advice. “On the family side, once you do reach the big league level, you’re going to have new friends and family members that come out of the woodwork that you’ve never met before. You know you’ve got to stay true to yourself. Take care of yourself first and family that has been there from the beginning.

“He looks out for me a lot, takes care of me. I really appreciate it and look up to him. I thank him a lot for that.”

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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USA TODAY

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.