White Sox

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts could challenge Adam Eaton for Gold Glove award

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts could challenge Adam Eaton for Gold Glove award

Adam Eaton added another highlight reel catch on Wednesday night to a campaign full of fantastic plays.

When the Rawlings Gold Glove finalists are named next month, Eaton is expected to be among them for the second time in three seasons. But as outstanding as the White Sox outfielder has been, he’s also sure to face a strong challenge from Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. With 2 1/2 weeks to go, Eaton and Betts appear to be in a tightly-contested race for the award. One factor that could disrupt Eaton’s chances — besides the fact that Betts is having an MVP-type season at the plate — is that the White Sox outfielder has 336 fewer innings in right field headed into Thursday.

“We’ve had to use him in center out of necessity,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But in right field, I haven’t seen anybody that’s better than him this year.”

The numbers are close depending upon your defensive metric of choice. Eaton — who because of Austin Jackson’s injury has logged 344 1/3 innings in center field and 902 1/3 in right — holds a 24.0 to 16.8 edge over Betts (1,208 innings in right) in Ultimate Zone Rating in right field, according to fangraphs.com.

He also holds an edge in assists, with 15 of his 18 coming when he plays in right field. Betts has 13 assists. And Eaton leads in UZR/150 22.9 to 18.9.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

One area where Betts has a big lead is in Defensive Runs Saved as he’s produced a major-league leading 29. Eaton has 23.

Eaton feels good about his candidacy.

“Across the board it's been relatively good,” Eaton said. “Yeah, you take a lot of pride in that. We all talk in spring training about wanting to win a Gold Glove. It's always been on my list to win. I take a lot of pride in that. You work your butt off to be in a position to hopefully be in the top three and want to win every year. It takes effort and focus and some good luck and some great teammates.”

A finalist as a center fielder in 2014, Eaton has been superb in right field since he made the switch earlier this season. His routes have been smooth and his arm is not only strong, it’s extremely accurate. Eaton said the addition of Jackson in center allowed him to go out and play the outfield freely.

“When he’s in right, he just gets better jumps,” Ventura said. “I think it just suits his eye better, reading balls off the bat. Throws are better. He just seems to be online. You never know why a guy has comfort in that. But he is remarkably better in right.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”