White Sox

Tim Anderson will honor slain friend during Players Weekend

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson will honor slain friend during Players Weekend

Some guys chose their hometown.

Other players went with watered down nicknames playing off their real names.

When Tim Anderson chose his nickname for Players Weekend, he opted to honor deceased friend, Branden Moss. The White Sox shortstop couldn’t think of a more fitting acknowledgement for his close friend, who was shot and killed on May 7 near the University of Alabama campus. Players across the majors will wear jerseys with their chosen nicknames across the back on the weekend of Aug. 25-27.

“When I first heard about it, it’s the first thing that came to my head,” Anderson said. “Just thought I definitely want to pay tribute to him. He definitely motivates me and someone I played the game for.”

White Sox players chose a variety of options for their nicknames. Catcher Kevan Smith preferred to use “Ripper” but said Major League Baseball suggested he might get flack for its proximity to serial killer Jack The Ripper. Smith settled on “Szmydth” instead, which was his family’s surname before his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Poland.

Rookie pitcher Aaron Bummer isn’t sure what his nickname would be but said his last name often is used anyway, that or “Bum.”

Alen Hanson went with “El Chamaquito,” which translated to “The Kid.” Gregory Infante said he’s always been called “El Meteorico,” or “The Meteor.” Leury Garcia only recently picked up “El Molleto,” or “The Muscle,” after Michael Ynoa began to call him that.

Yolmer Sanchez said he has too many nicknames and decided to go with his hometown, El Del Penonal. Jose Abreu also opted for his home, Mal Tiempo as did Miguel Gonzalez (El Jaliscience).

Adam Engel put his daughter Clarke’s name on the back of his while Chris Beck went with the nickname his younger siblings gave him, “Bubba.”

Though he could have gone with something as simple as Timmy, Anderson wanted to pay his respect to Moss, whose death has affected him greatly. Anderson and Moss were close enough to be brothers. Anderson said he still talks to Moss’s mother all the time.

“It lets people know how much he meant to me,” Anderson said. “Very special in my life. He just kept me going. He was such a happy person. It’s always good to pay tribute to someone who was so great in your life.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”