White Sox

Sox Drawer: The Real Carlos Quentin

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Sox Drawer: The Real Carlos Quentin

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
10:53 a.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz - Hes been described as intense, moody, distant, and unapproachable. A man who if given a choice between a five-hour root canal and a 10-minute TV interview would probably race to the dentist and say hold the Novocaine.

Since being acquired by the White Sox three years ago, this is the Carlos Quentin we have come to know, an extremely private person who hates to talk about himself, and prefers to keep his life at a distance from the media.

Like 200 miles.

So imagine my surprise when a member of the White Sox revealed that Carlos, despite his public demeanor, is actually a funny guy who can be the life of the party.

It was such a stunner, I thought about having the information scroll across the bottom of Comcast SportsNet as if it was breaking news.

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Id like to know who told you that, Quentin says with a smile as we begin our interview. Its spring training, the time when Carlos smiles the most. However, once the regular season begins, the expression usually disappears, replaced by a stern, focused stare that can knock down a brick wall.

But as we sit across from each other, Quentin seems lighter and more relaxed, as if a transformation is taking place.

Is this the real Carlos Quentin, the man behind the baseball mask?

Its hard to talk about, but youre on the right track, Quentin says. I definitely have a personable side to myself that I keep hidden from the mass public, and Ive done it throughout my life. Its become a part of me. My wife knows who I am, my close friends do, my family, a lot of my teammates. Everyone has their own battles to fight, and Ill continue working on mine.

Quentin, a Stanford grad, is one of the smartest athletes around. Maybe too smart for baseball. His analytical mind is always on, as if permanently plugged into an electrical socket. Probably not the healthiest way to survive a 162-game season. Its a problem hes trying to fix.

But with that mind comes some valuable tricks, like delivering movie quotes. Name a film that Carlos has seen, and he can fire back multiple lines as if the script is embedded in his brain.

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Ive got tons of them. Im not going to try right now, he says, before breaking out some Will Ferrell from Blades of Glory. Looking is for free, touching it will cost you something. Hence, movie quote. This is actually the first time documented that anyone has ever gotten a movie quote out of me in an interview.

I have the exclusive.

You do. Exclusive rights.

Its this part of Carlos we rarely see; witty, sarcastic. I ask him if its tough to show this side to the public. To let people in.

Yeah, I think so. For everybody. When I talk about this, Im completely aware that Im not the only person who does this. Its a common thing for a lot of players. This is our livelihood. This is a serious thing. Ive taken it to heart throughout my entire career, throughout college, throughout high school. You keep that in the background and its just being able to come out and be yourself while thats still looming over you. Its a blend that some people are very good at. A lot of people on our team are great at it. And some people need to work on it.

One piece of advice that Carlos has heard time and time again is to lighten up. He wishes he could just hit a button and quickly calm everything down inside his mind. But its not that easy. Never has been.

When someone tells you to do something that you continuously try to do, its like You dont think Im trying? What do you think, like I just decided no. Before I used to take it a little personally, but now I just kind of chuckle. No one walks in my shoes except myself. I appreciate people trying to help in certain ways, but Im open to it. Ill get there. Im not not trying.

To lighten the mood, I ask him if its time for another movie quote.

No, were getting serious, Quentin says with a smirk. I might start crying.

READ: Quentin gains perspective

The Carlos Quentin we saw in 2008 when he almost won the American League MVP (36 HR, 100 RBIs) is still very much here, although some of the rage that was burning inside him that season has quieted down. Quentin says he took the trade from Arizona to the White Sox personally, and has since learned from it.

I felt like I was kind of given away. Ive never been upset at the Diamondbacks, but I just felt like in a young players career, when a team gives up on you, trades you away, theres some adjustment to that. You go on this successful path, and all of a sudden you hit a huge bump, a huge roadblock, and you realize that the people you spent time with are now gone, and it can happen just like thatand you kind of guard yourself. But you cant keep guarding yourself over and over. And thats been kind of the habit Ive fallen into to protect me from the woes that baseball can bring. That people dont talk about.

If he didnt play professional baseball, Quentin probably could have made it to the NFL. At University High School in San Diego, he was named Western League Defensive Player of the Year as an outside linebacker. Considering he plays baseball like hes Brian Urlacher, I often wonder if he should have been a football player instead.

Ahh, me too, Quentin says laughing. It would have been easier. I have no problem running into something over and over. Physically it would take a toll, but tell me to go tackle somebody and Ill do it.

In the calm waters of spring training, Quentin can be the loose, relaxed version of himself. You wonder how long it will last. Maybe Carlos does too.

The regular season will begin, things at some point will go south. Its baseball. It happens to everyone. How will Quentin react then?

I hope I still get to talk to you, he says with a big grin. He then decides to take our conversation in a completely different direction. Who am I to get in the way?

He continues, I mean, theres a chance I might not speak to you after this interview.

I might not want to interview you.

Lets take a couple of breaths together. Youre pretty funny. I actually dont mind talking with you. A mental note. Ill remember to say hello to you from now on.

Can I put this on my resume that Carlos Quentin wants to talk with me?

Honestly, Im not that important. You know it too. Youre just joking. People will watch this because of you.

No, because of you.

No, its not about me, its about you.

Im making this happen??

Youre the media. Youre the face.

Im not even on camera.

Im just on the field. I graze and hang out. I swing a bat. Thats all I do.

I then prepare Carlos for what will be the toughest question I will ask him. He shivers. Actually, not really.

Got any jokes, I ask.

He thinks for a moment, pondering what kind of joke he can tell on television. Hes thinking about the kids.

What did the mama tomato say to the baby tomato?

I think Ive heard this one before.

Ketchup.

The punchline hangs in the desert air for a second. Its a tad uncomfortable. I better laugh. But its nice watching Carlos squirm.

We should never use that, he says, breaking the silence with a laugh. Ever. That took away all my credibility. Street credgone.

Ill disagree. It was Carlos being Carlos. The real McCoy. The guy behind the guy. The player we never get to see. It was fun while it lasted. Hopefully well meet again.

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

Tim Anderson reacts to the death of Kobe Bryant

Tim Anderson reacts to the death of Kobe Bryant

People from the world of sports and beyond continue to react to the death of Kobe Bryant.

Before he became a baseball player, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson played basketball while growing up and was, like many other basketball fans across the world, a fan of Bryant's.

Now a professional athlete himself, he reacted to the news and reflected on Bryant's impact on his life and the lives of others.

"Kobe Bryant is definitely one of the greatest basketball players to play. You hate to see something happen like that. Prayers to his family," Anderson told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien on Monday. "It hits home. It's his kids, his family. His daughter was with him. You hate to see something like that happen. I'm praying for his family. I have girls of my own, so it definitely hits different when it's someone like that.

"Kobe Bryant's an icon and inspired so many kids and is still inspiring people in today's sports, even outside of basketball. So you hate to see something happen like that. The prayers are with him and his family, and I'm praying that they get through this."

Bryant's daughter, Gianna, was also among those killed in Sunday's helicopter crash. Anderson has two daughters of his own.

"It hits, like I said, (when you think about) his kids. You instantly think about his family and his kids," Anderson said. "Just knowing the guy that I am, I love my family to death, I love my kids. I couldn't imagine having to go through that. But I want to continue to uplift his family and continue to send prayers. I think everyone needs to gather around them in a moment like this and give all the support you can."

Anderson expanded on some of the ways he looked up to Bryant, the basketball player, as well as Bryant the person.

"He definitely was someone I looked up to," Anderson said. "His desire to win and the way he stepped on that court, and the way he played each game was definitely to win each game. So he definitely inspired me in that aspect.

"Every time you shoot a 3, you're going to say, 'Kobe!' I think that's automatic when you pick up that basketball, every person that shoots is like, 'I'm Kobe.' That's how he inspired African-American guys and not just African-Americans, kids all over the world.

"And even the things he did off the court, a real businessman and first class how he handled his things, just so professional the way he did it.

"He was all over TV, he was all over the place, all over magazines and stuff. His long career with the Lakers was definitely enjoyable to watch. I was such a huge fan. But you hate to see something like this happen to such a great guy and a great father and just a great person overall."

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High praise for Andrew Vaughn, including a Paul Konerko comp

High praise for Andrew Vaughn, including a Paul Konerko comp

Andrew Vaughn is getting a lot of love.

The White Sox first-round pick in last year's draft, Vaughn is a slugging first baseman who was downright sensational in his collegiate career at Cal. Now, he's one of the White Sox highest rated prospects and a guy who could soon be swinging his powerful bat on the South Side.

Just how highly do the White Sox think of him? Here's director of player development Chris Getz talking about Vaughn at SoxFest over the weekend:

"He's a very talented kid, and he's talented for a lot of different reasons," Getz said during a Saturday-afternoon seminar. "When you look at the physical ability, especially in the frame that he has, and what he's able to do to a baseball, it's pretty fun to watch.

"But when you sit down and talk to Andrew Vaughn about hitting, that is the most impressive thing. I sat down, and I just wanted to listen and learn from him. It's like talking to a 10-year vet. I say that because he knows exactly what he needs to do to have success. He has a very advanced approach, and I don't think he'll ever waver from it. He knows exactly what he needs to do on a daily basis to have success against a particular pitcher.

"So Andrew Vaughn's a good one. We're happy to have him."

The White Sox are obviously biased, but the love for Vaughn doesn't stop once you get outside the organization. MLB Pipeline unveiled its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball Saturday, and Vaughn ranked No. 16 in the game, ahead of fellow White Sox youngsters Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal.

And this ought to get White Sox fans salivating even more. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo was asked on Twitter to compare Vaughn to a major leaguer. Mayo came up with one of the best hitters in White Sox history.

So the obvious question is now when we'll see Vaughn swinging in the big leagues. He's obviously a year behind his fellow first-rounder, Madrigal, who is expected to reach the majors in the early portions of the 2020 season. But Vaughn might not be very far behind. He only played 29 games at Class A Winston-Salem last season, and in his first full season as a pro, it wouldn't be surprising to see him start at Winston-Salem again. That's speculation, but it would make sense considering it's where Madrigal and Luis Robert started in 2019 and both ended up playing at three levels. Because of the way those two flew through the system, it would not be surprising to see Vaughn reach Triple-A in 2020, as Mayo said. All would have to go as well as things went for Madrigal and Robert, of course, but given the rave reviews of Vaughn's talent, that shouldn't be out of the question.

While the White Sox have exhibited plenty of patience with their prospects in recent years, they could also be looking at a new situation: being in a pennant race in September. If that's the case, and the lineup could use a little oomph, would they consider bringing Vaughn up in order to help them reach the postseason for the first time in more than a decade? That was a much easier question to answer when no playoff spots were on the line. Now, maybe things could be different.

An interesting element to all this is what kind of room there will be for Vaughn. Jose Abreu isn't going anywhere for the next three seasons, at least. However, the team gave itself some flexibility at the DH spot, with Edwin Encarnacion only on a one-year deal. That contract has an option for the 2021 season, but if Vaughn proves himself ready, the White Sox could move on from Encarnacion after just one year and open up an everyday spot for the young slugger.

Until then, we'll just have to rely on more rave reviews like the ones from Getz and Mayo. And if the guy turns into the second coming of Konerko, well, that will fly go over rather nicely on the South Side.

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