White Sox

Slider the focus of Jeff Samardzija's bullpen session

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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.”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get a Jeff Samardzija jersey right here]

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.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

For many White Sox fans, Comiskey Park was their introduction to White Sox baseball when they were young. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka share their memories of the old ballpark. Among them: Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl, Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball, Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game, they discuss the final game ever played there and read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below.

8:26 - Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl.

10:11 - Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball.

12:49 - Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game

15:11 - The guys talk about the final game ever played there.

16:44 - The guys read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

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'White Sox to the Letter'

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AP

'White Sox to the Letter'

Inspired by Ogden Nash’s 1949 poem “A Lineup for Yesterday”

 

A is for A.J.

Once punched in the face

If strike three ain’t caught

He’ll steal first base

 

B is for Baines

Who’s known to speak gently

When asked if he’ll homer

He said, “Evidently!”

 

C for Comiskey

The old baseball yard

When it was torn down

I took it quite hard

 

D is for Donkey

I mean Adam Dunn

He’d strike out or walk

Or hit a home run

 

E is for Eloy

He isn’t here yet

Though an All-Star career

Is still a good bet

 

F is for Fisk

The incomparable Pudge

From his perch behind home

Not an inch he would budge

 

G is for Gold

G is for Glove

Aparicio is

Who I’m thinking of

 

H is for Hawk

Unforgettable voice

Stretch! Dadgummit!

And don’t stop now boys!

 

I for Iguchi

Second base man

Won World Series

Returned to Japan

 

J is for Jackson

The legend still grows

A home run or touchdown

Only Bo knows

 

K is for Kopech

Speed, he has plenty

He’ll pile up strikeouts

In two thousand twenty

 

L is for Luke

Old Aches and Pains

Hit .388

That record remains

 

M is for Mark

As in Mister Buehrle

When he takes the mound

The game will end early

 

N is for no-no

Wilson Alvarez, Humber

Two by Mark Buehrle

Too many to number

 

O for Orestes

Miñoso’s real name

Not in the Hall

And that’s a real shame

 

P is for Paulie

He gave it his all

At the championship rally

Gave Jerry the ball

 

Q for Quintana

Kept coming up short

Only because

Of no run support

 

R is for Richie

But please call him Dick

A dangerous man

When he’s swinging the stick

 

S is for shoes

Which were not worn by Joe

In 1919

Please say it ain’t so

 

T is for Thomas

Amazing career

He went to the Hall

And brewed Big Hurt Beer

 

U for Uribe

He played everywhere

When the ball left his bat

Hands waved in the air

 

V is for Veeck

He knew how to sell

Fireworks, promotions

And Eddie Gaedel

 

W is for William

Or Bill; He was Beltin’

So hot was the corner

Third baseman was Melton

 

X is for Fox

At least the last letter

Among second basemen

Nobody was better

 

Y is for Yolmer

He has sneaky power

The master of giving

A Gatorade shower

 

Z is for Zisk

And others I missed

Unable to fit

In my White Sox list