White Sox

Sox Drawer: From 'worst' to first

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Sox Drawer: From 'worst' to first

Its the end of May. The White Sox have won seven in a row and 11-of-12. Paul Konerko is having an MVP season. Jake Peavy and Chris Sale are early candidates for the Cy Young Award. They have one of the best young hitters in the game in Dayan Viciedo, not to mention one of the best young closers in Addison Reed.

Now fifty games into the season, theres one team all alone in first place in the American League Central not called the Detroit Tigers. Or the Cleveland Indians.

Its the team no one believed in.

During spring training, Gordon Beckham walked around the clubhouse comparing the White Sox to the viral video about the Honey Badger. Dont care. He dont care. We dont care, Beckham would say about their critics.

Who were they?

Everyone.

Not only were the White Sox not expected to win the division this season, nobody thought theyd even sniff first place for even a second of it.

The Tigers were expected to run away with the AL Central from day one.

The White Sox? They were supposed to lose 95 games. Right, SI.com?

So much good is happening right now, the stats are coming in at a dizzying pace:

In the last 15 games, the White Sox are No. 1 in the majors in batting average, home runs, runs scored, runs per game, slugging percentage and batting average with runners in scoring position.

Theyve won seven of their last eight games on the road.

Theyve homered in 15 straight games, their longest streak since 2004.

Viciedo has more RBIs in May (23) than Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano and Michael Young have for the whole season.

Adam Dunn has hit more home runs this month (11) than he did all of last season.

Meanwhile:

Philip Humber has a perfect game.

Chris Sale had 15 strikeouts on Monday, one shy of the franchise record.

Paul Konerko is batting .386.

Justin Verlander lost to the Red Sox on Tuesday. The Tigers are 23-26. At the same point last year, the All-in White Sox were 22-27. Sound familiar?

And leading this group of men is someone who until this year had never managed a game in his life. The hiring of Robin Ventura was considered by most as a sign that the White Sox had either given up or lost their minds.

What they failed to recognize was Venturas mind. His knowledge of the game, plus his leadership, communication skills and laid-back personality were a perfect for this club. Considering the soap opera that occurred last season with the White Sox, he was the right manager at the right time.

Could 2012 be the White Sox time? Its way too early for that.

However, as June arrives, this team is proving its for real and doesnt plan on going away anytime soon.

The critics, the skeptics, the non-believers? The White Sox didnt care about them then, and they dont care now.

All that matters is winning. That theyre doing.

Its been fun to watch.

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency travel order Thursday that requires travelers visiting Chicago from states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases to quarantine for two weeks.

By the end of the month, a certain group of travelers — Major League Baseball teams — are scheduled to visit Chicago to play games against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Likewise, the White Sox will be traveling to play road games in other states, as well, from which they will eventually return.

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But the White Sox say they aren't expecting the new order to impact their upcoming 2020 season.

"Based on our current understanding, we do not expect this to impact our operations as presently planned," a White Sox spokesperson told NBC Sports Chicago on Thursday.

Currently, no states that are home to Central Division teams from either the AL or NL are impacted by Mayor Lightfoot's order. But as has become extremely apparent, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can change things quickly, and there's no knowing which states might be impacted come Opening Day or at any point during the two-month baseball season.

At the moment, the mayor's order, which goes into effect Monday, applies to visitors from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Landing on that list involves a specific metric. Per the city's website, "a state will be designated if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average."

Major League Baseball is imposing a geographic schedule to minimize travel for teams during the shortened, 60-game season. Teams will only play their division rivals and teams from the same geographic division in the other league. The White Sox will play their four AL Central rivals and the five teams from the NL Central.

As of the mayor's order being issued Thursday, the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were not part of the travel order. But every one of those states except Missouri, as well as Illinois, is currently experiencing a week-to-week increase in the number of new cases. The number of new cases is also rising in Iowa, where the White Sox are still on schedule to play in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 13.

The city has the ability to grant exemptions, though, and Major League Baseball's extensive health and safety measures could come into play. According to the city's website, "the Commissioner of Health may additionally grant an exemption based upon an organization’s or business’ testing and other control policies or in extraordinary circumstances, which warrant an exception from mandatory quarantine."

So the city has the power to let the MLB season, as it pertains to teams traveling in and out of Chicago, to operate as planned. It can allow the Cleveland Indians come to town, or allow the White Sox to return from a trip to Detroit, even if other travelers from Ohio or Michigan, for example, are mandated to quarantine for two weeks.

As mentioned, the evolving status of the pandemic and the response to it, not just in Chicago but across the country, can change everything in a hurry. Major League Baseball faces its own internal hurdles when it comes to safely getting the season off the ground and completing it.

But as the White Sox understand it, there might not be reason to believe Mayor Lightfoot would be throwing a separate wrench into the difficult task of playing the 2020 baseball season.


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Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

Yoan Moncada all in on Luis Robert, predicts big rookie season with White Sox

One of the most popular questions surrounding the White Sox, as they head into a season unlike any other, has lingered throughout the three-month layoff.

What kind of rookie year will Luis Robert have?

Things have obviously changed since March, when spring training came to an abrupt halt and everyone on the South Side had to wait indefinitely to see Robert play his first major league game. The wait is over, but Robert's first taste of the bigs will come in a shortened, 60-game season. The hype is still there, sure — and for good reason — but as past hyped White Sox prospects like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez have shown, it can take time to adjust to major league pitching and start playing up to expectations.

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Moncada went through a full season's worth of struggles in 2018, striking out 217 times before having a huge 2019 campaign and emerging as the team's best all-around player.

So when he shares confidence that Robert's going to do just fine in his rookie season, it might not be a bad idea to listen.

"He’s a young guy with a lot of talent. Everybody saw that during the spring," Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "I think for him, the key is to just play his game, don’t feel pressure, and with the support of all of us, he’s going to be good. I’m very confident he’s going to have a very, very good season just because of the talent he has."

The talent is obvious. Robert garnered preseason expectations as a front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year honors because he's a true five-tool threat who spent last season wowing minor league crowds with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field.

The hype is real.

“He can do it on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive side,” second baseman Nick Madrigal said back in February. “He’ll hit a 400-plus-foot home run one day, and then he’ll make a Superman catch in the outfield. It seems like he can do it all. Stealing bases every day. He’s definitely the complete package.”

But how will the unpredictable circumstances of 2020 affect Robert? How they will affect anyone remains a mystery until teams start workouts this week and start playing games a few weeks later. One thing we can calculate at the moment is time, and Robert won't have much of it to make any necessary adjustments.

We saw it take far more than 60 games for Jimenez to get used to the way big league pitchers were attacking him last season. He figured it out eventually, started launching balls over the center-field fence and had a torrid final month to his rookie campaign. Robert won't have the same luxuries in 2020.

RELATED: Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

But he will have resources, the same ones he was expected to be able to lean on before the pandemic wiped so much of the season off the calendar. Moncada has benefited so much from Jose Abreu's mentorship, and there's no doubt that Abreu and Moncada both will offer any advice they have to their countryman Robert.

"I passed through that process, and Abreu was there helping me through the process and that was very helpful," Moncada said Wednesday. "And I think for (Robert), it’s going to be the same. We’re going to be there for whatever he needs, for whatever questions that he has. That’s going to be very helpful for him. We’re always going to be there for him."

They'll just have to be there from six feet away.


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