White Sox

Sox Drawer: Kenny Williams Not a Happy Camper

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Sox Drawer: Kenny Williams Not a Happy Camper

Wednesday, September 23rd

"I'm not the happiest camper here in Chicago."

Those were the words of a frustrated and, as he put it, "grumpy" Kenny Williams before Wednesday's game against the Twins. That's what happens to a general manager when he watches his team collapse under the pressure of a pennant race like the Sox have here in September.

What has disappointed him the most? Williams first mentioned the 67 unearned runs his team has given up this season (most in the American League), a plague he described as "disturbing."

His relief corps? "The names are good, but they haven't met expectations" said Williams. When asked about Bobby Jenks and whether he thinks Matt Thornton can become the closer if they don't bring back Jenks, Williams deflected the question, saying "Bobby Jenks is under contract" and claimed that his confidence in him "is still high."

Despite the Jake Peavy injury and the struggles of Alex Rios, he wouldn't take either of those trades back.

With Jim Thome gone, he's not sure if they necessarily need left-handed pop in the lineup. On-base percentage to him is more important now...not home runs. When asked if the team couldn't overcome the loss of Thome, Williams said "If they did, then we weren't strong enough to win the damn thing. We just weren't."

Kenny said he has also noticed "which players have quit and who haven't." Interesting.

When I asked him to elaborate on that, Williams would only say that when the team arrives in spring training, they'll all be on the same page in terms of fighting until the end.

Staying on that same theme, he added "I don't want to see anyone quit" the rest of the season.

So who will be here next year? Despite already being out of the race, Kenny is watching his team very closely.

A reporter asked if it's important to send the first-place Tigers a message. Said Williams, "It's important some guys send a message to me."

Auditions are underway.

Thats My Grandson

Last Sunday, my good friend Matt took his 5-year-old son Charlie to his very first White Sox game. One of the highlights of the day was taking Charlie into the gift shop to buy him a souvenir to commemorate the occasion.

While looking at a row of White Sox jerseys, Matt told Charlie he could pick one out. It was his choice. Whatever he wanted.

Charlie didnt know any of the Sox players by name, but one jersey immediately caught his eye.

I want that one, Charlie said.

You sure? Matt asked.

Yep!

And with that, Matt grabbed the 15 jersey of Gordon Beckham and took it off the rack.

I really have no idea why he chose that one, Matt later told me. Five-year-olds are mysterious creatures.

As they walked over to the cash register to pay for the Beckham jersey, a woman with reddish-brown hair came over to them.

She seemed visibly moved. Matt wasnt sure why.

Excuse me, said the woman in a sweet, southern accent. I just want you to know that Im Gordons grandmother, and I am so pleased that your son chose his jersey.

Charlie isnt the only one. Gordons jersey has lately been the Sox 1 seller.

She just happened to be Gordons 1 fan.

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease is entering the 2020 season with plenty to prove. Considering how important he is to the future of the White Sox, it is perhaps fitting he was the first White Sox pitcher to take a mound in a spring training game.

On Saturday, Cease pitched two innings against the Cincinnati Reds as he ramps up to full strength. The most notable thing wasn’t how long he pitched or what his stat line was. It was his fastball.

Cease's fastball sat mostly at 96-98 mph and topped at 99. Cease quipped there could be a bit more in terms of his velocity.


Cease averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball in the majors in 2019. In 73 innings, he threw nine pitches that were at least 99 mph, topping out at 100.1 mph, according to Baseball Savant. He was capable of throwing that hard, but didn't do it often. For Cease to be on the higher end of his average and feature a 99 mph fastball in his first pitches of Cactus League baseball might be a sign that he could have added a touch more velocity.

It’s also just a two-inning spring training start, meaning Cease knew he could let fly a bit more in a shorter outing. Cease told reporters after his start he was focusing on his fastball command. He struck out three with no walks and three hits allowed.

In his rookie season, Cease struggled with command and consistency. He had a 5.79 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 35 walks over 14 starts.

February baseball doesn't carry any meaning, but this is a small encouraging sign for Cease.

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Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

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USA TODAY

Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

You can put to bed the rumors about free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig possibly signing with the White Sox. It’s not happening.

The two sides did get together during the MLB Winter Meetings in December. Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria met with Puig for about 90 minutes to discuss the possibility of the 29-year-old joining the White Sox as their everyday right fielder.

But instead, the White Sox chose to take a different route. That same week, they acquired Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers for minor league outfielder Steele Walker, ending any chance of Puig coming to the South Side.

“After our meeting we came away big Yasiel Puig fans, but he wasn’t the right fit for us then and he isn’t right now,” Williams said.

With spring training games starting this weekend and the regular season a little over a month away, fellow Cuban Jose Abreu says he’s surprised the flashy 29-year-old outfielder remains a free agent.

“Yes, I am (surprised). That’s one of those things that happen that you don’t understand. A guy with his talent. He’s still so young,” Abreu said through a translator. “He doesn’t have a team yet. It’s a surprise. I’m confident he’s going to find something this year.”

Even with Puig’s talent, Abreu looks around the White Sox clubhouse and agrees with the decision by the White Sox not to sign the former All-Star who hit .267/.327/.458 with the Reds and Indians last season.

“I don’t think he would be a good fit here. Don’t get me wrong. He has a lot of talent but we’re full," Abreu said. "Our outfield is looking great with Nomar (Mazara), Eloy (Jimenez) and (Luis) Robert. There’s no reason for us to make more moves in that area of our team. He’s someone who would fit in with any major league ball club because he has the talent to help any of those teams.”

What about possibly platooning Puig with Mazara in right field? On paper, that might sound like a good plan, although Puig has traditionally hit better against righties than lefties in his career. But a larger issue could be the timeshare. The idea of Puig, nicknamed “Wild Horse,” being forced to the stable for half the season could spell problems not only for him, but the chemistry inside the clubhouse.

“It would be difficult, especially for him being an everyday player,” Abreu said about Puig being a platoon player.  “When you have to make that decision, it’s not easy.”

So, where will Puig end up?  No one knows for sure but it won’t be with the White Sox.  

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