White Sox

Manto excited about Baines' new position

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Manto excited about Baines' new position

There was no shortage of excitement in Jeff Mantos voice on Tuesday morning as he discussed working with Harold Baines next season.

The White Sox named Baines, who last season was the teams first-base coach, assistant hitting coach for the 2013 season.

The team also announced the returns of Manto, the clubs hitting coach, pitching coach Don Cooper, third-base coach Joe McEwing and bench coach Mark Parent and also elevated Daryl Boston to first-base coach and Bobby Thigpen to bullpen coach.

Boston spent last season as a roving minor-league outfield instructor for the White Sox while Thigpen -- who takes over after Juan Nieves was named the Boston Red Sox pitching coach -- was the pitching coach at Double-A Birmingham in 2012.

Though Baines officially moved into his new role on Tuesday, its a duty he performed last season alongside Manto, who was in his first season as hitting coach.

Manto said he leaned heavily upon his one-time teammate last season and has no doubt the two share the same ideals about hitting, a critical component for their new relationship to work.

I dont think Bainsey would have walked into it if the message wasnt the same, Manto said. Were on the same page with our language and our thoughts. Its not even going to be a transition.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the move began to evolve last season at Baines request. Several teams made the move to two hitting coaches ahead of the White Sox, including the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres. Ventura said on a phone call Thursday he could see a connection between Manto and Baines form early on.

Harold enjoyed it, Ventura said. Bouncing stuff off coaches, we do a lot of that going back and forth together. For Jeff, having somebody like Harold is valuable.

The bond between Manto and Baines dates back to 1995, when the two played together for the Baltimore Orioles. Manto blasted a career-high 17 home runs in 89 games that season for the Orioles while Baines hit .299 with 24 homers.

What impressed Manto most about Baines is how hard the first overall pick of the 1977 amateur baseball draft worked at his craft on the way to 2,866 career hits. Not only that, but when the two talked hitting, Baines, unlike many great hitters, could relay in laymans terms what made him successful. Those cerebral conversations had Manto convinced Baines could relate to hitters about what he saw from the first-base box.

He wasnt a guy who didnt know how he did it, he was a great hitter who knows exactly what he did, Manto said. Hes definitely in tune with what the players are doing today. Hes not just on top of mechanics. One thing we focused on last season was What were you thinking? and thats why we were successful.

With Baines on board, Manto believes the White Sox should have even more time to hone players hitting abilities as they move forward. The two will split the workload evenly, which should allow each ample time to work with hitters in the cage and video room. Though Baines and Manto will sometimes use different drills to teach hitters, the message will remain constant.

It just alleviates the workload, Manto said. Nobody will be left out and nobody will be slighted. I trust him as much as I trust anyone.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.