White Sox

To stay in the hunt, White Sox need Sale to stay strong

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To stay in the hunt, White Sox need Sale to stay strong

KANSAS CITY There are two ways to look at it: You can focus on how far Chris Sale has come in the last two years, or how much he still has to do in the second half.

Sale rocketed through the system after the White Sox took him with the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft. It took only 11 games in the minors to go from Florida Gulf Coast University to the big leagues. Its not going to slow down.

There was Sale on Monday at Kauffman Stadium, taping the Top Ten Fun Facts about the All-Star Game for David Letterman. Sale followed Justin Verlander and Joe Mauer at No. 8: After the Home Run Derby, there's now a Weak Grounder to Third Derby.

It does get kind of crazy at times, Sale said Tuesday, but you kind of learn to deal with it and go along with it and just have fun with it.

Yes, the Late Show appearance was pretty sweet. But Sales Q rating is only going to increase if the White Sox continue to prove the experts wrong and stay in first place, and the left-hander with the nasty slider puts up more numbers (10-2, 2.19 ERA).

This will be the next frontier: Sale has already thrown 102.2 innings after accounting for 71 out of the bullpen last season.

Were just going to kind of play it by ear, Sale said, and just go on how I feel and how my stuff is. Well cross that bridge when we get there.

The White Sox never seem to get much love or hype from Baseball America and the prospect rankings. But they have now developed a 23-year-old frontline starter, and enough homegrown talent to come out of the All-Star break with a three-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.

How Sale responds to the heat of a pennant race and how the White Sox protect their investment will be telling.

Jake Peavy has emerged from his own physical issues to return to the All-Star Game for the first time since his Cy Young season with the San Diego Padres in 2007. This is the underlying tension.

I understand Chris Sale has got to be looked after, Peavy said. Hes a prized possession for any organization to have. At the same time, when I look back and think about when I got into the league in 2003, my first full season, (and guys like Roy Oswalt), we were throwing around 200 innings.

For us to win, Chris Sale is going to have to start. Its going to be interesting to see how that plays out. Well just leave that up to the organization and what they feel is best. They certainly know. But the biggest thing comes down to him taking care of himself and his body.

There may be nothing more fragile or expensive than elite starting pitching. The Washington Nationals intend to shut down All-Star Stephen Strasburg in September. The Cubs dont have a hard limit, but they are targeting around 180 innings for Jeff Samardzija, who has a body that was built to play in the NFL. Sale is listed at 6-foot-6, 180 pounds.

Obviously, Im trying to do everything I can to put on weight, but its something that I dont think is in my control, Sale said. The main thing is just trying to stay strong and get my shoulder right and make sure everythings feeling good. (Its) getting stronger so I can do what I need to do for this team.

General manager Kenny Williams thinks big and likes to be aggressive. The Detroit Tigers appear to be gathering momentum and are only 3.5 games out. Maybe Kevin Youkilis was only the start for Williams.

Hes going to do what he has to do to help our team in whatever way, Sale said. Going and getting Youkilis was a big part of that. I dont mean having him on the field. Having him in that clubhouse, too, has made our team that much better. Hes fit right in and hes an unbelievable guy.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.