White Sox

Tim Raines on Hall of Fame: 'It's getting a little nerve-wracking'

Tim Raines on Hall of Fame: 'It's getting a little nerve-wracking'

Tim Raines likes to classify himself as one of those “weird guys” who never really got nervous during his 23-year major league career. But his case to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame — which is in its 10th and final year — just might be changing that personality trait. 

“Coming now to this point, being my last year on the ballot and being so close, it’s getting a little nerve-wracking,” Raines said. “I think those nerves are starting to set in. I just can’t wait until it’s over now.”

Raines’ Hall of Fame credentials at one point were a battleground for the old school vs. new school battle that's raged in baseball circles ever since the "Moneyball" days of the early 2000s. But his .294 batting average, .385 on base percentage, 808 stolen bases, 364 more walks than strikeouts and 69.1 WAR have been viewed in an increasingly favorable light by Hall of Fame voters in recent years. 

“Rock” Raines received 69.8 percent of the vote in 2016, falling just 23 votes shy of the 75 percent to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. This year’s mark is significantly up from 55 percent in 2015, 46.1 percent in 2013, 52.2 percent in 2012, 48.7 percent in 2011 and 37.5 percent in 2010. No player who has received 68 percent of the Hall of Fame vote has failed to be inducted.

“This is probably the first year out of the nine years that I’ve been on the ballot that I really, really feel like I have a chance,” Raines said. 

Raines is back on Chicago’s South Side for the White Sox “Homecoming Weekend,” along with former teammates Jack McDowell, Lance Johnson and Roberto Hernandez. Raines only spent five seasons with the White Sox (1991-1995), but he made a major impact on those teams — four of which finished over .500. His best year in Chicago came in 1993, when his .306/.401/.480 slash line helped push the White Sox to an American League West title. 

“He was one of the guys that, once we had our core group, you bring a guy like that in and it bumps us up to contention level,” McDowell said. 

Added Johnson: “He was already a Hall of Famer when he came to us.”

Raines seems likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, along with former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who received 71.6 percent of the vote in 2016, and perhaps former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero will debut on the ballot next year but aren’t locks to be first-ballot inductees, so making up those 23 votes may not be too difficult. 

Even though the numbers point to Raines making it, the nerves will only continue to build until the balloting results are announced in January 2017. 

“For those 23 that wanna vote for me next year, please,” Raines smiled. “I’ll be grateful.”

But with or without the Hall of Fame, Raines is proud of what he accomplished in baseball and how he went about doing it. 

“I had a really great career, I know it personally, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Raines said. “I loved every minute of playing the game. It’s just a situation now where I have an opportunity to close that chapter of my career. Hopefully it’s getting in. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. 

“But I just know the things that I did on the field, I enjoyed doing it and I’m sure the fans that cheered for me and cheered against me enjoyed seeing me and doing the things that I did. I would love for it to happen. It would be something that I never really thought of when I first started playing the game, or even when I finished playing the game. That never was a thought in my mind that Hall of Fame would even be a chance.”

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.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both 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 now and 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 change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by 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: