White Sox

Three years after claim, Rios proving his value to White Sox

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Three years after claim, Rios proving his value to White Sox

Exactly three years after he was claimed off waivers by the White Sox, Alex Rios was hitting fourth against the Oakland As on Friday night.

Rios, who most teammates believe was an All-Star snub in July, takes the place in the lineup of team captain Paul Konerko, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion.

Its the first time this season the former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder will hit cleanup and Robin Venturas selection of Rios to replace Konerko is more validation a risky move made by the White Sox front office has paid off.

When the White Sox claimed him on Aug. 10, 2009, Rios -- who is signed through 2014 and has a 13.5 million club option for 2015 -- was owed roughly 60 million in guaranteed money, the entirety of which was picked up by the club. Rios had struggled with the Blue Jays and continued after his arrival, hitting .199 over the final two months of the 2009 season.

This season, Rios is hitting a team-high .318 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs and has often been mentioned by teammates and coaches as a player critical to the teams success because of his all-around play.

This is the player we were hopeful we were getting, assistant general manager Rick Hahn said Friday.

Rios admits he never saw the move coming.

An All-Star for the Blue Jays in 2006 and 2007, Rios signed a seven-year deal worth 69.835 million only four days into the 2008 season. He believed he would remain with Toronto well into the future.

But in 2009, Rios OPS slipped to .744 with the Jays, more than 100 points below his All-Star performance in 2007.

I didnt expect it, Rios said. I had thought I was going to spend the whole time there.

The White Sox had spoken to the Blue Jays about Rios prior to the July 31, 2009 non-waiver trade deadline, a team source said. The sides explored numerous trade scenarios with Toronto eating some salary in exchange for prospects or the White Sox footing the entire bill with no players going back.

When Rios was placed on waivers, the White Sox had an idea the Blue Jays would allow him to walk and already had the approval of owner Jerry Reinsdorf to add the contract.

We hoped when we made the move was he was going to be a long-term answer for us at one of our outfield positions, Hahn said.

Rios was asked to play center field when he first joined the White Sox and responded well. He hit .284 with 21 homers and 88 RBIs in 2010 and provided above-average defense in center.

Rios overall production slipped in 2011 both in the field and at the plate as the White Sox endured a disappointing 79-83 campaign.

This season, a move to right field has re-energized Rios. He has again provided good defense and is on pace to reach career-high totals in average, home runs, RBIs, runs and slugging percentage.

He's come in motivated and has been the same every day, Ventura said. He comes in and he does a lot of different stuff for us. First, he's really good in right field, made a lot of great defensive plays for us. Offensively, he just always seems to be having great at-bats. Steals bases, he does a lot of different things for us that are positive. Anybody would want a guy like him on your team, because he's been that good this year.

Rios hopes his invitation to play for the White Sox lasts through 2014 and perhaps even 2015. He also knows the waiver claim was just part of the business of baseball.

(The waiver) is part of the game, part of the job, Rios said. I have had a great time here and hopefully I can keep enjoying the rest of my contract here.

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

The veteran catcher was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition continue for those two pitchers?

As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Omar Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

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