White Sox

Promotion to White Sox gives Matt Purke 'sense of accomplishment'

Promotion to White Sox gives Matt Purke 'sense of accomplishment'

NEW YORK -- It doesn’t matter that Matt Purke didn’t learn about his promotion until very late, his family made it to Yankee Stadium anyway.

Shortly after the White Sox informed him they would purchase his contract, a move the left-hander said Friday he didn’t see coming, Purke passed word along to his family in Nacogdoches, Texas. Even though it’s halfway across the country, more than 10 friends and family found last-minute flights to come to potentially see Purke’s major league debut. A third-round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2011, Purke said he’s experienced a variety of emotions in the 24 hours since he learned he’d join the White Sox.

“Just a sense of accomplishment, excitement and anxiety,” Purke said. “All the emotions come through. The biggest thing is that you’ve achieved your goal. We’ve been playing this game since we were four and five years old, 20 years later I finally made it to where I wanted to be. It’s just a wonderful feeling. I’m truly blessed to be here.”

Originally drafted 14th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2009, Purke opted for college at Texas Christian University. Until this season, Purke -- who replaces Scott Carroll, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte -- has mostly been a starter in the minors as 45 of 59 appearances have come in that role. While he’s only made one start this season, Purke has pitched multiple innings in six of 10 games. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Purke could be used as a long man or even as a situational lefty given how many left-handed hitters the Yankees’ lineup features.

“You get some length out of him,” Ventura said. “Matty provides some of that, to be able to do that. I think especially these guys, with the lefties that they do have, a lot of switch-hitters. But with the lefties they have and as short as it is to right field, it’s good to have him.”

Purke’s just glad his family, a group that includes his “mom, dad, brother, his wife, niece and nephew, my wife, her parents and some other family and friends that are close to us,” can be here to celebrate with him. He never knew if he’d reach the majors and yet here he is at Yankee Stadium, only 24 hours after he was with Charlotte in Norfolk, Va.

“It’s what we play for and my dream of being a professional baseball player in the big leagues finally came true,” Purke said. “It was a very exciting moment for me, my family and everyone who has been a part of this journey. It’s been a long one. It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been short and now it’s time to enjoy it.”

The White Sox added Purke to the 40-man, which is now at 39.

The club learned it lost catcher Hector Sanchez to a waiver claim on Wednesday to the San Diego Padres, which leaves it short-handed behind the plate. Kevan Smith is still recovering from an April 25 back injury that landed him on the disabled list. Ventura said Omar Narvaez is likely next on the list were the White Sox to need a catcher. 

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the White Sox wait for their All Stars of the future to develop, Jose Abreu is representing the club at the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital.

Abreu, elected by the fans to be the American League’s starting first baseman Tuesday night, might represent the White Sox present, but he’s a key part of their future, as well. While his contract situation remains a mystery — the team would need to extend him in order to keep around past the 2019 season — he’s helping to develop the players who are planned to make up the next contending group on the South Side.

No player is more under Abreu’s guiding hand than Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban who just a season ago was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada’s development from top prospect into star of the future is the biggest storyline of the season for the White Sox. And Abreu, the role model in this clubhouse, is in part tasked with helping Moncada do just that.

“Our friendship is special,” Moncada said through a team translator last week. “We’re always talking about everything, having fun. He gives me advice, and I always try to make fun of him. Our relationship has been for a long time. We were friends in Cuba. And now we are rejoined here. It’s just a very good relationship. I’m blessed having him here.”

“He’s a Cuban, and it’s always special to play with a fellow Cuban countryman. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said through a team translator Monday. “I think that it’s a blessing. The White Sox did all that they could do for us to play together. I’m just enjoying the moment and every day with him. It’s special. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”

Abreu is often lauded by White Sox brass as the perfect example of what they want their young players to become. His incredible production makes that an easy comparison: He put up at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. But it’s what he does outside the lines that gets the highest praise. Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all of Abreu’s teammates constantly talk about his work ethic, his routine, his dedication to getting better and the way he goes about his business.

Moncada’s noticed. And he sees Abreu’s latest accomplishment — getting picked as an All-Star starter — as vindication that, yes, Abreu’s methods certainly work.

“Knowing him, knowing all the effort that he puts into his preparation, his work ethic, all that work that he puts into his preparation is paying off and he’s recognized with this election,” Moncada said. “That’s something that motivates you, something that lets you know that if you do things the right way, you’re going to get rewarded. For me, it’s a motivation, and I feel really honored to share this team with him.”

Moncada’s first full season in the bigs hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s had his hot stretches — including the last couple weeks; he’s slashing .356/.453/.644 since July 2 — but he’s also had long periods of struggles. Certain aspects, such as a propensity for striking out and making errors at second base, have been constants throughout the campaign.

Renteria refers to the mistakes and the poor results as teachable moments. Does he have a proxy teacher in Abreu?

“I tell him to enjoy the game,” Abreu said. “Enjoy the game, have fun, be a little more focused on the situation of the game. But I think the key is to have fun.”

Mostly, though, Abreu is convinced that Moncada will blossom into the kind of player White Sox fans hoped he would when he brought that top-prospect track record to the organization in the Chris Sale trade. The expectations are undoubtedly high, but Abreu’s been seeing Moncada meet them for some time. The two have known each other since the younger Moncada was 17 years old.

“I think that he was born with special abilities to play this sport,” Abreu said. “Before I met him, there were a lot of people talking about him in Cuba because of his abilities, the talent that he has. And when I met him, it was a very special moment. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘Wow, what people say about him is true.’ His body type, his ability to play the game. He’s special.”

So will the All Star of today and the All Star of tomorrow one day share the All-Star stage?

“I would like to have that opportunity. Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity,” Abreu said. “If that happens, that would be really special for us.”

On this day in 2000, Mark Buehrle made his White Sox debut

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AP

On this day in 2000, Mark Buehrle made his White Sox debut

On this day 18 years ago, former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle made is MLB debut.

NBC Sports Chicago’s stats guru Chris Kamka tweeted out Buehrle’s debut.

Buehrle was just 21 years old when he got called up to the big leagues, and spent 12 seasons with the Sox. He also had stints with the Marlins and Blue Jays.

Buehrle was never an overpowering pitcher with his fastball in the high 80’s. He was also known for working quickly on the mound to keep hitters off balance.

That paid big dividends for the Sox hurler, as he’s known for tossing a no-hitter against the Rangers in 2007 and MLB’s 18th perfect game against the Rays in 2009, with both of those games coming at then U.S Cellular Field.

A big highlight from the perfect game, a lot will never forget is former Sox outfielder Dwyane Wise saving Buehrle’s perfect game with a ridiculous juggling catch in center field. Ever since then, “The Catch” has been engraved on the outfield wall in left center.

Besides the no-hitter and perfect game, Buehrle knew how to field his position. Eight years ago against the Indians on Opening Day, Buehrle kicked a ground ball off his foot into foul territory and to record the out, he flipped the ball between his legs to first basemen Paul Konerko who barehanded it and got the out.

Let’s just say that play was at the top for that season.

But, as for eating up innings, Buehrle did not shy away from showing his durability.

After his rookie season, Buehrle threw over 200 innings in 14 consecutive seasons. In his tenure with the Blue Jays, he was just an inning and a third away from becoming the fifth pitcher in MLB history to record over 200 innings pitched in 15 straight seasons.

In his 16 years in the MLB, Buehrle finished with 214 wins and 160 losses, with a 3.81 ERA in 518 games and 493 starts over 3,000 innings. He won the 2005 World Series with the Sox and he also won the Cy young that year.

Buehrle appeared in five All-Star games, and he won four gold gloves, along with two pitcher of the month awards.

2005 was a good year to say the least for Buehrle. He finished the year at 16-8 with a 3.12 ERA which arguably could’ve been his best season in a Sox uniform.

His number 56 was retired by the Sox last season, becoming the 12th player in Sox history to have their jersey retired.

What a career it was for number 56.