White Sox

Mike Olt ready, excited for opportunity with White Sox

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Mike Olt ready, excited for opportunity with White Sox

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Olt chose to stay ready in case the phone rang rather than focus on his uncertain future.

Instead of coming in cold, the newest member of the White Sox said Sunday he has a sense of feeling prepared despite a week-long layoff between games. Olt -- who was designated for assignment by the Cubs on Monday and claimed by the White Sox on Saturday -- opted to stay with Triple-A Iowa and work out in the interim. His decision would seem to have paid quick dividends as White Sox manager Robin Ventura didn’t hesitate to start Olt in Sunday’s series finale against the Kansas City Royals.

“I never really thought about (my future),” Olt said. “I didn’t want to think about it. I just wanted to stay focused on staying ready and being prepared so when I did get a chance, if it happened, I wanted to be ready to at least take advantage of it.”

Olt -- who had a .265/.333/.460 slash line with nine homers and 25 RBIs in 59 games at Iowa -- last appeared in a game on Aug. 29 two days before he was DFA’d. But instead of heading home for the offseason, Olt asked if he could remain with the team, which had just opened a five-game series at Oklahoma City. He was granted permission and worked out as much as he could, staying with the team as it traveled to Round Rock, Texas on Friday. Olt said he received news of the White Sox claim on Saturday and made the quick flight to Kansas City.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“He says he’s ready to go, so we’re going to find out and put him out there,” Ventura said. “It brings an extra dimension to our lineup. Lately, we’ve been hitting some homers. I don’t know if they knew he was coming, but we’ll see if he can add to it.

“Everybody is a little different. It’s something with his work ethic and everything else he’s got going. That’s a good sign. It paid off for him because he kept working out and he’s ready to go.”

The White Sox are still in search of a long-term answer at third base and Olt -- who has 83 homers in the minors -- will get a look. He’s appreciative for the opportunity and ready to get going.

“I’ve had kind of a crazy career and the one thing about it, everything happens for a reason,” Olt said. “I’m excited to get another opportunity here and try to take advantage of it and just excited to get going.”

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.