White Sox

Sox begin rebuilding process with Santos trade

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Sox begin rebuilding process with Santos trade

DALLAS -- Of all the players who were on the White Sox trading block, Sergio Santos was down near the bottom of the list. But Tuesday, Kenny Williams surprised everyone by trading his closer to the Blue Jays for minor league pitching prospect Nestor Molina.

That was followed by a word used by Williams that many White Sox fans have been fearing for the last several weeks:

Rebuild.

The White Sox have begun the process, but its not a complete tear-down.

It is the start of a rebuilding and you guys know that Ive not used that word in 12 years, but it is the start of rebuilding now, Williams told reporters. Is it the start of a falling domino-type of rebuilding? No, absolutely not, because as we currently sit here I do not like whats currently being offered for our valuable pieces. So Im of the mindset that while we may do a couple more things, as we sit here right now well probably keep the rest of the pitching intact.

That means John Danks and Gavin Floyd are safe...for now.

"It's going to be interesting what rebuilding means to Kenny," Santos told Chicago Tribune Live Tuesday. "It could be something completely different for him than it does everybody else. I'm sure they're going to have a competitive team they're going to put out there in 2012 and give Detroit and everybody else in that league a run for their money."

Santos, the converted reliever who saved 30 games for the White Sox last season, was on the golf course when he got the news that he had been dealt.

Sergio was caught off guard, Williams said. Its always a difficult conversation because he gained his success with us and a new life with baseball with us. But he took it very professionally and hes looking forward to the opportunity to continue pitching in the major leagues. The team wanted him so badly to give up such a prospect.

That prospect, Molina, put up lights-out numbers last season in the minors, going 12-3 with a 2.21 ERA, 148 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 130 innings at both Class A Dunedin and Class AA New Hampshire.

But is he ready for the big leagues?

I would hope that we give him a little bit more seasoning, but hes got the kind of ability that, there are certain guys that will force his way onto major league rosters. When you look at a young pitcher, you look at what kind of stuff he has, what kind of composure he has, and his ability to command the strike zone, and this guy does it in a way that very few do so. Im not going to say that he cant, and he wont.

The White Sox clearly think highly of Molina. So do the Blue Jays, who were divided internally about letting him go.

We had to pay a very steep price and it was not easy to do, said Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. Obviously, hes one of our better prospects, definitely a tough one (to trade), but at the same time we think were getting a guy who has a chance of being an elite closer in the American League.

So who will be the White Sox next closer? There are several candidates: Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, and Jesse Crain are the obvious ones. And if youre wondering how Robin Ventura will be managing behind the scenes in regards to the players on his roster, Williams gave us a little glimpse.

Robin was in the meeting, and the Blue Jays guys asked who was going to close, Williams said. I started rattling off some names, I looked over at Robin and he had a quizzable look on his face and said Ill decide that.

Meanwhile, the Mark Buehrle train continues to leave the station in Chicago.

I hear hes a very popular man, and hes going to be even richer than he is, Williams said.

Asked if he anticipates having another conversation before Buehrle makes a final decision, Williams said "it's possible" explained their current position quite matter-of-factly.

Hell be missed unless something happens that is unforeseen right now.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.