White Sox

Melky Cabrera's defense boosts White Sox in win over Yankees

Melky Cabrera's defense boosts White Sox in win over Yankees

James Shields experienced the gamut of emotions when Aaron Judge’s fifth-inning fly ball to deep left field temporarily disappeared on Thursday night.

The veteran pitcher went from pop out to close call to no way to sweet relief before he even had time to take a breath. Shields owes it all to the latest round of theatrics on the diamond by White Sox teammate Melky Cabrera. The catch was one of several banner plays turned in by the White Sox defense in a 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday night, including two by Cabrera, who also threw out a runner to end the fourth inning.

“When I threw it Judge kind of slammed his bat a little bit so I figured it was a pop fly,” Shields said. “And I looked back and (Cabrera) caught it and I actually thought it was a home run because he didn’t show the ball quite right away.”

“It was a great catch.”

It also was a great gag.

Shields initially saw the reaction of America’s hottest slugger and was ready to move on to the next batter. Based upon the reaction, Shields believed Judge didn’t get enough of the ball for his 28th home run. Then Shields realized that Judge’s fly ball wasn’t as much of a pop up as he first thought. To top it off, Cabrera leapt near the left-field fence and then landed as if he hadn’t caught the ball. Cabrera’s theatric turn took it a step further as he turned to look at the fence and fans in the bleachers as if he didn’t have a clue where the ball was.

But much to the delight of White Sox relievers in the bullpen below and Shields on the mound, Cabrera suddenly revealed he had the ball.

“I know he held onto it a little bit and kind of played it for a little while until he showed it,” manager Rick Renteria said.

Cabrera’s theatrics have become par for the course in the White Sox clubhouse. The veteran is one of the team’s most popular players because of the entertainment value he provides on the field and off it. Whether routine or spectacular, you never know what you’ll get when Cabrera catches a fly ball. But his comic timing proved even more astute on Thursday night given it was Judge at the plate in a tight ballgame.

“That was just the way that it goes,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “I wasn’t planning to do it. It was just the reaction in that moment.”

Cabrera also had another spectacular moment to end the fourth inning. He quickly retrieved Ronald Torreyes’ drive to deep left field with two aboard and two outs and fired a perfect strike to second base in time to throw out Torreyes. While the tying run scored on Torreyes’ hit, Shields escaped a potentially damaging rally.

Shields, who earned the win and allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits with three walks, credited his defense for playing a big part as he pitched a season-best 6 1/3 innings.

So even though Cabrera temporarily messed with his emotions in the fifth, Shields chuckled about it afterward.

“That’s Melky, man,” Shields said. “He likes to have fun in this game, but he plays the game hard. It was a great catch.”

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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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: