White Sox

Mat Latos, Dioner Navarro could force White Sox hand

Mat Latos, Dioner Navarro could force White Sox hand

MINNEAPOLIS -- The White Sox would like to avoid anointing either of their backstops as a pitcher’s personal catcher. But Dioner Navarro and Mat Latos may just force the issue.

Back in February, Latos -- who is making his second 2016 start on Thursday afternoon -- said a big reason he joined the White Sox on a discounted deal is to again work with Navarro, whom he teamed up with for seven starts in Cincinnati in 2012. The right-hander implicitly trusts Navarro, who joked early in spring training he would like to be the “hashtag -- personal catcher” for Latos. Including last Thursday’s one-hitter in Oakland, Latos has a 2.01 ERA in 53 2/3 innings with Navarro behind the dish.

“I don’t want to get into that game already this early in the season, but if they do match up and he continues to pitch like that it might evolve into that,” manager Robin Ventura said.

It’s evident how much Latos likes throwing to Navarro, who didn’t catch him until Aug. 8 of the 2012 season. The two shared a big bear hug when they saw each other on the first day of spring training.

And Latos praised Navarro’s game-calling and gave the veteran catcher all the credit for last Thursday’s start in Oakland. Latos allowed a hit and a walk in dispensing of the Oakland A’s and said he only attempted to shake off Navarro once before he thought better of it.

“He kind of paused and kind of tilted his head at me,” Latos said. “And I stepped off the mound and was like ‘Whatever you want. Ok, boom let’s go.’ Called the pitch and we went after it.”

With Navarro behind the dish, Latos has allowed 34 hits, walked 14 and struck out 44 in 53 2/3 innings. Still, the White Sox probably want to see more evidence before they commit to a Latos-Navarro battery, especially since they also employ Alex Avila.

“I’ll leave that to Robin and Coop,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “I don’t think we’re going to have the quote, unquote personal catcher situation. But that has to be a consideration when Robin’s making the lineup. Both of our guys, Dioner and Alex, have the ability and have previously been full-time catchers so to speak, so there’s no problem using them back-to-back or using them three days in a row, if that’s what the matchups dictate.

“There’s a great deal of faith in both of those guys. Robin’s just going to put whichever one gives us the best chance to win out there on any given day.”

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:

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

0523-alex-presley.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

Not long after the White Sox brought Michael Saunders into the organization, another outfielder with major league experience is joining Triple-A Charlotte.

Alex Presley — a 32-year-old who played 71 games last season for the Detroit Tigers and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers — is the latest addition to the Knights’ outfield. He’s a guy who could potentially be used to help the White Sox outfield, which has seen two Opening Day players go on the disabled list for extended periods of time.

Avisail Garcia is in his fifth week on the DL while dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Nicky Delmonico is expected to miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. The White Sox might feel that the collection of Adam Engel, Trayce Thompson, Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka might be enough to get them through those injuries. But the results have not been great from that group. Engel and Thompson are both hitting under .200, while Leury Garcia and Palka have on-base percentages just above .300.

Presley, like Saunders, could be an option for a midseason promotion should he hit well in the minors. He hit .314 with a .354 on-base percentage in those 71 games with the Tigers last season. This year, he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, where he hit .275 with a .347 on-base percentage in 26 games.

It’s possible we won’t see either veteran outfielder on the South Side this season (though having Presley here for Elvis Night would be pretty excellent), but it gives the White Sox options should the lack of production from their current crop of outfielders and the injuries to Avisail Garcia and Delmonico keep them out longer.

It’s also quite possible that none of the names mentioned to this point will have a role to play in this team’s long-term future, not an outlandish thought considering Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe are all still developing in the minor leagues.