White Sox

Slider the focus of Jeff Samardzija's bullpen session


Slider the focus of Jeff Samardzija's bullpen session

MINNEAPOLIS — Jeff Samardzija and Don Cooper spent a good portion of Saturday morning’s bullpen working on the slider.

While Samardzija feels good about his stuff, his pitching coach believes the variance in speed — it’s three miles per hour slower than in 2014, according to Fangraphs.com — has made other pitches, in particular the fastball, easier to detect.

Through five starts, the White Sox starter has seen his slider put in play more often (up about seven percent) and hitters have done more damage with a .528 slugging percentage versus .365 for his career, according to Brooksbaseball.net. But Samardzija’s sinker is where the real damage has been done. Batters are hitting .516 and slugging .742, up from .319 and .462 in the past.

“Sometimes you want (the slider) harder and sometimes you want it softer,” Samardzija said. “You’re trying to adjust your pitches to what you’re seeing from the hitters and what their approach is. I think we’re seeing a lot of aggressiveness on my fastball early, and I think the softer slider is a little bit more noticeable early in the counts.”

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Neither the sinker nor slider worked well in Samardzija’s start on Wednesday in Baltimore.

Part of that could have been due to the layoff and the surreal circumstances in which the game was played, in front of an empty stadium after the previous two contests were cancelled because of rioting. The other part was a good game plan by the Orioles, who were aggressive early in the count.

Of the seven sliders Samardzija threw that ended an at-bat, one went for a double and the other a homer. Of the seven sinkers that ended an at-bat, four went for singles and another resulted in a double.

Samardzija gave up eight runs — all earned — over five innings. With his next start against Detroit on Tuesday, the right-hander could feature a harder, tighter version of the slider, as Cooper likes, with gameplan adjustments as well.

“You’re always working on it for sure, but I think you’re also adjusting it all the time based on the way the hitters are reacting to it,” Samardzija said. “Are they swinging at it or are they taking it? This is the game you go through throughout the season, a constant cat-and-mouse with your pitches, what you’re doing with them, where you’re locating them. They’ve got film on you, and you have film on them. There’s not too much unknown out there, so you always have to be mixing things up to stay ahead of the curve.”

Yoan Moncada goes to Carolina Panthers preseason game: 'Don't understand anything'


Yoan Moncada goes to Carolina Panthers preseason game: 'Don't understand anything'

Yoan Moncada just started his rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte and it didn’t take him long to enjoy a night in Charlotte.

The Knights had a home day game on Friday. Moncada went 1-for-5 in his first game action since suffering a hamstring strain on July 30.

With the Knights game ending in the afternoon, Moncada had the freedom to go to the Carolina Panthers preseason game at night.

The Panthers lost 27-14 to the Bills, but a peak at Moncada’s Instagram story from the day showed he may not have really understood what was going on.

The 24-year-old Cuban was decked out in a Panthers jersey. He still may be learning football though.


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White Sox Talk Podcast: The Bill Walton Game


White Sox Talk Podcast: The Bill Walton Game

Bill Walton called the White Sox/Angels game with Jason Benetti, and for one night baseball broadcasting was turned upside down. Chuck Garfien and Ozzie Guillen talk about what Walton brought to the broadcast. Ozzie speaks with Walton on the pregame show. They play the best Walton clips of the night and much more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast