White Sox

Ozzie-Kenny: A new bromance blooms

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Ozzie-Kenny: A new bromance blooms

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
3:41 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For fans of the modern-era Chicago White Sox, run by bold and brash general manager Ken Williams and piloted by feisty, eighth-year manager Ozzie Guillen, Monday's Winter Meetings news couldn't be better.

Just a few weeks after declaring he was 'confused' by reports that the White Sox were in discussions -- to what degree is still disputed -- to trade him to the Florida Marlins, the skipper made a quick dine-and-dash visit to the Winter Meetings and reported that all is well between him and Williams.

Their longtime friendship -- Guillen tearfully broke the news to Williams that he had been traded by the White Sox when the two were teammates during spring training of 1989 -- was build on the mutual respect the two shared. Guillen famously had been hired at the 11th hour by Williams, in spite of spending a substantial portion of his interview arguing with Williams.

The foundation of their friendship was shaken last year, when Guillen's middle son, Oney (then a White Sox employee), criticized the team via Twitter, digging in even deeper after he was fired for his outbursts. The relationship unraveled from there, poisoning the season for Guillen.

"This summer, I told my wife I couldn't wait until 2010 was over; 2010 was a very, very, very, very bad year for me, personally. Last year, we were 25-5 in one stretch and I didn't enjoy one game because of the problem we had off the field. It's not fun to come to work for anybody that way."

The two team leaders spoke at the end of the season and both declared the friendship to be patched up -- by October, Guillen was openly campaigning for a vote of confidence as manager -- but the mentor later revised his thoughts, speculating the he felt the relationship was much better, but would never be the same.

"I'm not saying the relationship wasn't working, but to make it the way it was, that's what I was looking for," Guillen said. "The problems were not on the field, they were personal."

Last week, in advance of Chicago's inking of slugger Adam Dunn, Guillen asked Williams out to dinner and the two spent upwards of four hours talking out their problems. To Guillen, that alone was a massive sign of respect he was showing his boss.

"When I have dinner with someone, that means something: It means I respect you and want to hear what you are going to say," Guillen said. "I want you to hear me and what I'm going to say ... and the conversation was great."

Recounting the discussion, its results brought a palpable look of relief to Guillen's face as he spoke to team beat writers.

"Everything is moving forward. We talked about the team and what we want to do," Guillen said. "But personally, we talked like grown-up people. The relationship we had in the past, the way we talked and communicated, it had to come back. We have to grow up and move on, make sure all the hatchets are buried and we don't burn bridges. It's not healthy. It's not good for the ballclub. It's not good for anyone.

"I promise Jerry Reinsdorf and Williams, I will do my part and do the best I can to make this work ... it will work out. It can't be the same situation. No way -- no way it will be the same."

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox Talk Podcast: White Sox call up Michael Kopech

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: White Sox call up Michael Kopech

With the big news that Michael Kopech is coming to the majors, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber talk about the decision by the Sox to bring up their top pitching prospect and the excitement that Kopech will bring to the team and the 2018 season.

Kevan Smith discusses what kind of stuff Kopech has and what it was like catching him in the minor leagues. Plus, they talk about Paul Konerko’s unforgettable day in the booth with Hawk Harrelson.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Talk service time all you want, White Sox have decided Michael Kopech is ready for the big leagues now

Talk service time all you want, White Sox have decided Michael Kopech is ready for the big leagues now

There were plenty of people who thought Michael Kopech was the White Sox best pitcher when the team left Glendale, Arizona, to start the 2018 season.

Whether or not the team shared that opinion, Kopech spent the next four and a half months as a minor leaguer.

The prevailing preseason thought was that it wouldn’t take the flame-throwing Kopech, who struck out 172 minor league hitters in 2017, long to breeze through Triple-A and arrive on the South Side. But it did.

A dominant beginning to the season was followed by a bumpy stretch in which his ERA and walk total consistently grew. But the last seven starts were terrific, and so Kopech’s call to the majors has finally come. He’ll make his big league debut Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins.

It’s news that will please many White Sox fans because it’s something they’ve been waiting all season to see happen. Ever since Sox Fest back in the winter, the No. 1 question has been: When will Kopech and Eloy Jimenez reach the bigs? Jimenez, the team’s top-ranked prospect, is still a minor leaguer for now, but Kopech is about to hit the South Side with a heck of a lot of fanfare. It’s a pretty tangible example of this rebuilding effort moving in the right direction.

The recent conversation among fans and media members, though, has centered around service time and whether the White Sox handling of Kopech and Jimenez would mirror how the Cubs handled Kris Bryant back in 2015, keeping a star prospect from the majors until a couple weeks into the following season to start the clock a year later and essentially add a year of team control to the end of his contract. A lot of Twitter-using White Sox fans have whole-heartedly bought in to such a strategy.

But general manager Rick Hahn has insisted all along that the only determination of when these guys would come up was that they hit all the developmental milestones the team wanted them to hit in the minor leagues. For what it’s worth, Hahn answered a question about service time earlier this summer, saying that it had nothing to do with keeping Kopech at Triple-A. That question was specifically in reference to when Kopech could become arbitration eligible, not a free agent even further down the road. But the response is an interesting one as a similar conversation keeps happening surrounding this team and these specific decisions.

“It was all baseball. It’s never been the arbitration three years from now. It’s been about baseball,” he said back in mid June. “Again, not getting too far down into Michael’s checklist of what we want to see him accomplish, but he hasn’t checked them all off yet. He’s had some real good starts. He’s getting closer, and it’s not going to surprise me seeing him here at some point in the not too distant future, but he’s not there yet.”

Several tremendous outings later, and Kopech is there now. The numbers have been unreal in his last seven starts: a 1.84 ERA, 59 strikeouts and only four walks in 44 innings.

Hahn also talked about how the team’s handling of pitching prospects Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito a season ago could be a kind of template for how it would handle Kopech this season. Both those guys were called up in August, just like Kopech will be in a couple days.

Just like Hahn’s season-long declaration that the fortunes of the major league team and of the players on the major league team had no bearing on when top prospects would be promoted, at the very least in Kopech’s case, the same seems to have been true about the issue of service time. Some might lament the fact that the White Sox didn’t wait on Kopech, and it’s not a point without merit, as a large number of injuries to top prospects this season robbed them of developmental time and perhaps shifted the timeline of the entire rebuild. Maybe. In the event that is a concern shared by the White Sox, the extra year might have made a difference down the road.

But as White Sox fans have seen first hand this season, there is development that needs to happen at the major league level, too. Giolito and Lopez gained valuable experience pitching at the end of last season. Those two, plus Yoan Moncada and other young players, have gone through growing pains throughout this year’s campaign. Kopech will face the challenges of the big leagues, as well, and the sooner he does, the sooner he can learn how to overcome them.

Hahn has said all along that the organization’s focus remains on the long term, and though there might be arguments out there that not waiting could potentially shorten the team’s window of contention many years down the line, Kopech’s promotion does an awful lot to open it in the first place.