White Sox

Peavy backs Danks for opening day start


Peavy backs Danks for opening day start

Mark Buehrle started nine of the last 10 opening days for the White Sox, including the last four. But with Buehrle off to Miami, the Sox will have someone other than the dependable lefty starting the season opener for the first time since 2007, when Jose Contreras started against Cleveland.

Jake Peavy sees John Danks as that guy.

"Id love to see Johnny Danks get that nod," Peavy told CSNChicago's Chuck Garfien in a one-on-one interview that will air on Comcast SportsNet Sunday. "Johnny has worked so hard, kind of a Mark Buehrle protg. Hes here for the next five or so years."

Only two White Sox pitchers since the end of the deadball era have started five consecutive opening days. One is Wilbur Wood, who started every opening day from 1972-1976. The other is Buehrle.

With Danks under control for the next five seasons, he very well could join that group.

Peavy also elaborated on the difference between starting opening day and any other early-season game:

"Ive pitched on opening day six or seven times, and it's a thrill no doubt, and you feel some extra excitement on opening day that you may not feel in game two or three or four," explained Peavy. "Ill certainly take the ball whenever and however I got it. I can promise you this Im going to do everything I can to be the top end of the rotation guy that I know I can be, and whether thats on opening day or game five."

How close are Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez to returning to White Sox lineup?

How close are Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez to returning to White Sox lineup?

You’ve seen what Tim Anderson can do on a baseball field, making plays with his bat, his feet and his glove and doing it in a way that gets the White Sox dugout all sorts of fired up.

They’re missing him right now.

It’s not to say that the team’s not-so-pretty 2-8 road trip to start the second half went the way it went because Anderson wasn’t in the lineup. But a first half filled with positives has segued to a second half that’s started in less-than-ideal fashion. The best way to shake off those doldrums? Getting an energizer like Anderson back from the high ankle sprain that’s had him on the injured list for the last month.

“Some of the guys have told me that,” Anderson said, presented with the idea that the White Sox are missing his presence. “It's been a tough stretch. I'm sure it's been hard, but take it a day at a time. I'm ready to get back with the boys and just keep having fun with them.”

That could be sooner rather than later. Anderson ran the bases ahead of Monday’s game against the Miami Marlins, with manager Rick Renteria saying that if all goes well the shortstop could soon head out on a rehab assignment. Unsurprisingly, Anderson was hopeful things would progress quickly, but Renteria didn’t rain on his player’s sunny projection one bit.

“Maybe a week or two, I'm thinking,” Anderson said. “I think it just depends on how I feel. But I feel good. I think I'll be ready to go maybe in a week or two.”

“Once he goes out and starts playing,” Renteria said, “I would say that is realistic.”

Getting Anderson back in the coming weeks would be a very good thing for a White Sox lineup that averaged just 2.4 runs a game and 1.4 extra-base hits a game during its seven-game losing streak to begin the second half. Anderson might not be hitting .400 like he was in the early weeks of the season, but he still owns a career-best .832 OPS.

Of course, that same lineup could use Eloy Jimenez, too, though the status of this injured White Sox hitter is a tad more difficult to pin down. Jimenez’s injury during the series against the Kansas City Royals was the lowest moment of the 2-8 stretch coming out of the All-Star break, the sight of him grabbing his limp arm after colliding with Charlie Tilson sending panic throughout the fan base.

It sent panic through Jimenez, too.

“We both said ‘I got it’ at the same time,” Jimenez explained Monday. “He heard me, but I didn’t hear him. I just hit my elbow and something happened. … I didn’t try to get hurt. It just happened.

“My first thought was that (my season might be over) because I felt a lot of pain and I didn’t feel my hand. I said, ‘Oh my god. I might be out for the season.’ But after I took the MRI, they told me, ‘You are going to be back soon.’”

Just like Jimenez’s first injury of the season, when he got his foot stuck in the outfield wall trying to rob a home run at Guaranteed Rate Field, things could have been much worse. Then, Jimenez ended up with only a high ankle sprain and was back in less than a month. The White Sox are still taking it easy with what they’re calling an “ulnar contusion” and have no timetable for Jimenez’s return this time around. But it’s not some severe thing that will wipe out the rest of his rookie year.

Jimenez has not yet been cleared to swing a bat or make throws from the outfield, perhaps an indication that his return is still a ways off. But that’s what the White Sox want right now.

“We're preventing him from swinging,” Renteria said Monday. “We're going to take care of this kid. This guy's a special kid. So we're doing everything in our power right now to make sure we limit his activity until we're ready to put him out there and do what we need to do to continue moving forward.”

The White Sox bumpy start to the second half might have been a rude awakening for those dreaming of the outside chances of a surprise playoff appearance, and with the postseason looking more like a 2020 concern rather than a 2019 one, it’s not exactly “crucial” that the White Sox get these two regulars back to remain in the playoff hunt.

But there’s no doubt that they could use Anderson and Jimenez back in the lineup, two boosts that would accomplish the task of making for a more competitive second half. Teamed with Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada and James McCann, the lineup could continue to grow together as it steams toward a 2020 edition that could also feature red-hot prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal.

If the first half showed that 2020 could be a contending year for the White Sox, one would assume, perhaps, that the second half of the 2019 season would be a continued climb toward that contending status. If it’s going to resemble a climb more than a slide, getting Anderson and Jimenez back on the field figures to be a big part of that.

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Extended netting makes its debut at Guaranteed Rate Field: 'Enough is enough'

Extended netting makes its debut at Guaranteed Rate Field: 'Enough is enough'

The All-Star break is over, the White Sox have completed a 10-game road trip, and the South Side is hosting Major League Baseball games again. This time, though, with a new feature.

Monday, the White Sox unveiled extended protective netting stretching from one foul pole to the other, shielding fans sitting in the stands from foul balls screaming off the bats of the best hitters in the world.

Fans getting hit with batted balls has, unfortunately, been a recurring talking point this season. Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. lined a foul ball that hit a young fan during a game in Houston. Guaranteed Rate Field has seen multiple instances of fans being hit with foul balls this season. And across the game the increased exit velocities are producing more dangerous projectiles entering the seating area.

Extending the protective netting, which Major League Baseball currently mandates needs to reach only to the end of the dugouts, seems like a no-brainer, and the White Sox acted quickly to do just that.

“It’s a great idea,” White Sox relief pitcher Evan Marshall said before Monday night’s game. “It’s a shame it wasn’t done sooner and just almost the standard across baseball, I think. Finally the players are kind of speaking out because everybody is tired of seeing people get hit.

“I get it. You can make the argument it takes away from the fan experience, the whole chance to get a foul ball. But I don’t know. Enough is enough. People are getting crushed in the stands. It happens to a little kid, it just devastates you.”

Players in the White Sox clubhouse have been vocal about the need for extended netting since the incident involving Almora and repeated their desire to see it implemented after the team announced their intent to do so last month. The issue’s not going away, either, with Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor recently speaking out after a similar occurrence involving a 3-year-old fan in Ohio.

Now the nets are up on the South Side, and again, it seems like a no-brainer of a decision.

Certainly there will be those opposed, as Marshall alluded to, though even in person, the nets don’t do much in the way of blocking views from the stands.

But any change is often enough to set off some fans. Still, White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said the reaction to the team’s move has been positive.

“The reaction we've seen so far has been really positive,” he said Monday. “People understand that the ballpark experience has changed from just a few years ago. Pitchers throw harder, balls come off bats harder, people are spending more time looking down at their phones — we're all guilty of that — or at the scoreboard. And so I think safety matters to folks.

“I think overall it's been a positive reaction. … If you look, it's light colored, it doesn't really seem to impact (the view). We've tested, we've sat in seats, and we don't think the impact will be very dramatic for most people.”

The bottom line is the safety of the fans. And though some will make the tired argument that fans should pay closer attention to the game, that’s simply an impossibility in these times — and it’s potentially meaningless, too, as White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito has brought up in the past that it’s impossible for players in the dugout to avoid these hard-hit balls, and they’re playing plenty of attention.

Just ask White Sox pitching prospect Ian Hamilton, who was hit by a batted ball while sitting in the dugout earlier this season. That ended his season, as he’ll require multiple procedures to repair the damage to his face.

“Dude, no matter how much you're paying attention to the game, if that thing's coming in 115 miles an hour with tail, no matter if you have a glove this big, it could hit you right in the forehead,” Giolito said when the netting was announced in June. “For me, being around baseball for so long, I think it's a smart move because it just keeps people safe. I hate seeing young kids get hit, having to go to the hospital. It just leaves a sick feeling in all of our stomachs. At the end of the day, I think it's the right move.”

For those autograph-seekers concerned with how the new netting might affect access to players before games, the White Sox left the door open for changes in the future. Think of the remainder of the 2019 season as a test run with the new netting, which can be tinkered with before the 2020 campaign rolls around.

“One of our approaches is: Let's see over the next two months,” Reifert said. “Fans are going to adapt, players are going to adapt. Let's see what happens, and then we can make decisions about next year moving forward.”

One interesting wrinkle is what effect the extended netting will have on the game itself. According to Reifert, the nets will effectively serve as a wall in foul territory (think of the brick walls at Wrigley Field). A batted ball that hits the net on the fly becomes an instant foul ball, which might take away a few flyouts from the left fielder. But a batted ball that bounces in fair territory and then bounces into the net is live, potentially taking away a few ground-rule doubles.

But, of course, the main takeaway here is the increased level of safety for fans attending games at Guaranteed Rate Field. White Sox fans will get the first taste of what this extended netting looks like. Don’t be surprised if it reaches every stadium in the game soon after.

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