White Sox

Sox Drawer: Big Frank frankly speaking

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Sox Drawer: Big Frank frankly speaking

Wednesday, July 28, 20101:19 PM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
For the man famously known as the "Big Hurt," Frank Thomas looks back at his legendary White Sox career and remembers the pain he inflicted on so many baseballs.

His 448 home runs, 447 doubles, 1,327 runs and 1,465 RBIs all rank No. 1 in team history.

But for all the damage he did to the White Sox record book, Thomas knows that he left behind wounds that are still being felt in certain quarters of the White Sox franchise and its fan base, lesions that the ultra-competitive Thomas acknowledges were created during his playing career because of his overwhelming will to succeed.

Feelings were hurt. Relationships soured. A giant would be humbled.

Let the healing begin.

"I was overly consumed in my career," Thomas said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet for the program "Inside Look: Frank Thomas", which debuts at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 14. "I was a focused guy. Most people couldnt understand how I could be so focused, but I was.

Although wildly popular in the 1990s, trailing only Michael Jordan, and arguably tying Sammy Sosa for Chicago sports supremacy at the time, Thomas would build a perception that he wasnt just the face of the franchise, but its arms and legs.

"People just didnt understand me. They felt like I was all about myself and all about my stats, and not worried about the team, and thats totally false."-- Frank Thomas, on the perception of him during his playing days with the White Sox"I was driven. I wanted to be the best," Thomas said. "I wanted to chase the best. People used to make a big deal about me and the stats. For me, stats meant that the team was going to win. It wasnt about me being selfish. I felt like I had to put up a certain amount of stats every day to help this team win and win consistently, day in and day out.

"I took a lot of heat for that in the past. People just didnt understand me. They felt like I was all about myself and all about my stats, and not worried about the team, and thats totally false."

Recently, Thomas has had a moment of truth as it relates to his infamous departure from the White Sox after the 2005 season. The team chose not to bring Thomas back because of a lingering foot injury, a decision delivered by general manager Kenny Williams to Franks voicemail. Thomas felt he deserved more respect than that, and shot some verbal missiles to his second home at 35th and Shields.

Williams fired back with a neutron bomb.

"Hes an idiot, hes selfish. Thats why we dont miss him," Williams said in February 2006. "And weve held it in for far too long ... hes the Oakland As problem right now."

Today, Thomas sees the notorious blow-up from a different perspective, and understands not only why the Sox didnt re-sign him, but why he and Kenny fought World War III in the first place.

"It wasnt pretty, but were both stubborn gentlemen," Thomas said. "Were both competitors. We both think we know it all. Getting myself away from it 3-4 years later, I respect what he did, because it was about this organization moving forward and I wasnt a part of the plan because they thought I was done. And I can look back, the first two months in Oakland ... I thought I was done. I was batting about .105, .110 still trying to heal. The White Sox just didnt have time to wait on that."

Thomas has to wait until 2014 to be officially inducted into baseballs Hall of Fame. His 521 home runs, .301 career batting average, and two MVP awards should get him in on the first ballot, especially considering he played the game clean during the height of the steroid era.

Others chose to take a different path to immortality.

There is still plenty of skepticism surrounding Sosa and the inflated numbers he magically produced from 1998-2001. So I posed the following question to Thomas:

If he had the power, would he vote Sosa into the Hall of Fame?

"Thats a tough one," Thomas said. "I love Sammy to death. I love him like a brother. But at this particular time, no I would not vote him in. Weve never heard anything from him. Hes never confronted the situation. Hes never explained his side. He just basically went back to the Dominican Republic and we havent heard anything from him. I really want to know what went down."

And Mark McGwire?

Tough sell. Hes admitted it, but still," said Thomas. "For me, what I put myself through for the last 18 years, busting my butt day in and day out to keep up, I dont have to dislike these guys, but Im kind of disliking what they did."

Thomas did not take steroids, but he did consume something else during his playing days, which may have been the hidden ingredient to his success. A secret he has chosen to finally reveal after so many years.

Boston Market.

Thats right. It turns out that Thomas could not get enough of this fast-food eatery and he would go to great lengths to gobble up their chicken meals before every game, home and away.

Was he superstitious? That would be a resounding yes.

"I would go to every city and look for a Boston Market," Thomas said. "That was something I held onto for six or seven years. I would go to Boston Market every day and have the same lunch every day, but it was all about consistency. I just felt like if youre consistent with your meals every day, you can be consistent on the field every day.

One afternoon Frank ate a steak before a game. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Never again. It was Boston Market or bust.

But did they have one in every major league town?

"No, but I tried to find it," he said

Who didnt?

"Many cities. Seattle didnt have one. Minneapolis didnt have one. So if I couldnt get Boston Market, I would call the hotel and try to have the same meal made up for lunch every day.

Now an official ambassador of the White Sox, as well as a pre and postgame analyst on Comcast SportsNet, Thomas has been welcomed back into the White Sox family. The team will retire his No. 35 jersey on Frank Thomas Day, Aug. 29, a day he expects will shed a few tears.

Baseball is Franks game. The Sox brought it to life. Where in baseball does he plan on spending the rest of his? Here in Chicago with the White Sox.

Where he belongs.

The Big Hurt is home.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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USA TODAY

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.