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.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, White Sox fans!]

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.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

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USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.