White Sox

SoxFest 2016: Fans buzzing about team's offseason additions

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SoxFest 2016: Fans buzzing about team's offseason additions

For the second-straight offseason White Sox GM Rich Hahn made a splash to help improve the ball club through trades and free agency.

And While last year's additions didn't work out as well as White Sox fans would have liked, the team's fanbase is still optimistic heading into the 2016 season.

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Fans were buzzing about new third baseman Todd Frazier and second baseman Brett Lawrie as the team's annual SoxFest kicked off at the Hilton Chicago on Friday evening.

"I hope they all contribute in some way," one White Sox fan told CSNChicago.com. "Obviously Todd Frazier is the easy one to say. Another bat behind (Jose) Abreu. Hopefully (Adam) LaRoche can get back to the LaRoche ways and help out the middle of the order. Lawrie is going to solidify the infield. I think one big thing that we needed was infield and catching, and we got better defensively. I think that will help out a lot in the tough AL Central."

Check out some the sights and sounds from Day 1 of SoxFest in the video above.

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors, but he's also making plays like this

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USA TODAY

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors, but he's also making plays like this

Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors. But he's also making plays like this.

Anderson does have a ton of errors, 20 of them, to be precise, a total greater than any player in baseball. He's committed at least 20 errors in each of his last three seasons, and in four major league seasons he's got 82 of them.

None of that should cancel out the great defensive improvement we saw from Anderson over the course of last season. Just because he's making a lot of errors doesn't mean he's not a good fielder, as the frequent eye-popping defensive plays he makes should illustrate.

The outside focus on Anderson this season has been on almost everything besides the defense: the offense, the attitude, the high ankle sprain, the evolution into one of this young team's leaders. All that's deserved, of course. That injured-list stay has him just outside of qualified status, and if he had it he'd own one of the highest batting averages in the American League. But defense remains a high priority for Anderson, who said he practices plays like the one from Friday night all the time.

"That's stuff I practice on," he said Saturday. "I go out before the game and I practice on those things, and I think it's starting to show now. And people are watching."

"He’s really, really good because he gets to balls most people won’t and then he completes a play like that," manager Rick Renteria said. "He’s been doing that quite a bit now for over two years. You really tip your cap to him and Joe (McEwing, White Sox infield coach), who has been steadfast working with him. For Timmy to take it upon himself to want to be the best at what he does, he continues to work very, very hard and play like that. It’s becoming a staple play like that for him in the hole."

It's true, we've seen that play an awful lot from Anderson this season, even if he was particularly and ridiculously deep Friday night.

According to Renteria, Anderson's range might be one of the reasons he's accumulated more errors than most.

"Anybody that can get to more balls than most people and have more chances (racks up more errors)," Renteria said. "Some of those plays, they are able to extend themselves to make those plays and they are not necessarily in the best position possible. But they are still capable of, with body control, trying to execute some plays.

"I think overall the more balls you can get to, the more chances you have, there’s a great chance of increasing errors — especially at shortstop, where he covers a lot of ground."

Those who watch Anderson on a nightly basis know that his error total doesn't define him as a defender at shortstop. They know he makes a ton of plays that few other shortstops make. But there will be those who scan the statistics at the end of the season and see all those errors and jump to their own conclusions.

That error total, whatever it ends up being, doesn't need to come with an asterisk. But maybe a link to some of the highlight-reel plays would be helpful.

Anderson's season deserves all the praise it's received for his offensive breakout, his excitement-generating bat flips and his rise as one of the young leaders in a group primed for such a bright future.

But remember the defense. It's a big part of what makes him a core player for this White Sox team.

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The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

Dylan Cease's ERA is still north of 5.75.

He's not a finished product, no matter how much anyone wants him to be one.

"It would be ideal for me — and my ability to sleep — and everyone’s mood if these guys came up and dominated immediately," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "In reality there is a little bit of a learning process that goes on."

All these results, the ones that have contributed to that ugly ERA and some generally ugly outings over Cease's first couple months in the major leagues, are learning moments. Not convinced on the effectiveness of those learning moments? Just look to Lucas Giolito, who took all the struggles he had in 2018 and turned them into an All-Star 2019 season in which he's blossomed into the ace of the staff.

But, despite the hype, these guys aren't coming up finished products.

Cease, though, has flashed the potential that has earned him all that hype, and in no outing did he flash more of it than he did in Friday night's start against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Following the theme that seems to be developing in Cease starts, he had a pretty lousy inning early in the game, in this case the very first inning, in which he served up a three-run homer. The theme continues, though, that Cease usually uses all that composure and maturity everyone's always raving about to settle down and pitch a decent game. Friday night, he was more than decent. After the first inning, Cease retired the next 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits (both singles) over five scoreless innings.

Cease, following in the tradition of perfectionist pitchers everywhere, hasn't been happy with previous outings that followed a similar script. This time, he was pleased. Maybe something to do with the career-best nine strikeouts.

"To me, that was just a huge confidence boost right there. Now I just need to not let those big innings happen," Cease said. "That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning."

"You had a couple of things going on," manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a rough first, we scored some runs, he holds them. We scored some more runs, he holds them. He kept doing that throughout. It's a big push. You see, there's a confidence-builder in that particular outing today. He should be happy how he ended up redirecting himself and righting the ship."

Cease's ability to do just that, right the ship, might give him a bit of a head start on his developmental process at the major league level. After all, Giolito and James McCann talk frequently about that issue plaguing Giolito in 2018. When things went wrong early, Giolito couldn't get back on track. He's been able to this year, contributing to his success. If Cease can do that from the day he hits the majors, that's a plus.

And if that's a tool Cease already has in his tool box, then the next step would be eliminating those early troubles. As good as Cease has looked at times, those numbers aren't lying. He's given up 32 earned runs in his 50 big league innings. He's given up 11 home runs in nine starts and has yet to have an outing without allowing a homer. Walks have been a sporadic issue: He walked just one batter in each of his last two starts but walked five in the outing prior and has three starts this year with at least four walks.

Again, learning process.

"His stuff is — it's electric stuff," Renteria said. "Sometimes you wonder, 'How can they hit him?' or 'How can they do this?' It's just (that they are) big league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they're going to do what they can do with it.

"As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he's going to be OK."

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