White Sox

Todd Frazier progresses but misses third straight game with flu-like symptoms

Todd Frazier progresses but misses third straight game with flu-like symptoms

NEW YORK -- Perhaps the biggest sign Todd Frazier has begun to feel better after a week with the stomach flu is the return of his trash-talking ways.

The White Sox third baseman didn’t start a third straight game on Tuesday night and has missed four of the team’s previous six contests. Frazier also has lost enough weight after not eating that the White Sox want him to regain strength before he returns to the field on a full-time basis. But Frazier had a smile on his face and enjoyed friendly banter with teammates in the clubhouse before Tuesday’s contest. Frazier said he’s available to pinch hit, but it could be a few more days before he starts once again.

“Pretty intense, one of those, a bad stomach virus and then it came back again,” Frazier said. “I feel a lot better now.

“I've been eating a lot better, drinking a lot better. But it's taken a toll a little bit. Right now, I'm taking it day by day. Right now I'm feeling better, but I want to be a 100 percent so nothing really comes back and bite me.”

Frazier has played at least 150 games in each season since he became an everyday player. He wants to be on the field and tried to return to action on Friday only to have his flu kick in again on Saturday. The veteran collected six at-bats over 1 1/ 2 games before he left Saturday’s contest early. Frazier, who produced career highs with 40 home runs and 98 RBIs last season, said he’s never experienced the flu like this round.

“Not this intense,” Frazier said. “It’s been crazy. I’ve lost some weight. You guys see a difference. I’ll get it back. It’s just a matter of time. It’s a pain in the butt.”

Manager Rick Renteria noted Frazier’s weight loss. He said the club intends to be patient to ensure Frazier is healthy before he returns to action.

“But he looks good,” Renteria said. “He’s smiling. Just trying to get him to eat a little more right now.”

Does big-name free agent Manny Machado want to play for a team like the White Sox?

Does big-name free agent Manny Machado want to play for a team like the White Sox?

White Sox fans have been buzzing for weeks now about the South Siders' reported interest in Manny Machado and a couple other of the biggest names on this winter's free-agent market.

But it takes two to tango, and an overarching question has been whether the White Sox reported interest and seeming willingness to spend and spend big will be matched by mutual interest from those big-ticket free agents.

Aside from Bryce Harper's mentioned enjoyment of deep-dish pizza, there's been little indication what the top free agents think about coming to the South Side of Chicago, but along with a hefty contract, the White Sox planned bright future would figure to be a bit of a draw.

Talking with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Machado didn't get too specific about what he's looking for in a new team after spending much of his career with the Baltimore Orioles and a half season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the White Sox could certainly fall into the broad criteria he did provide.

"At the end of the day, I'll consider every situation carefully," Machado said. "There's a lot that goes into my decision. First and foremost, I will think about my family, where they will be comfortable and happy. I definitely want to be in a place where I can win long term and be a part of World Series teams for many years to come. It's way too early to tell what else might play a part, but I'm excited and looking forward to it."

Again, that's pretty generic. But if everything goes according to plan, the White Sox should be in a position to be a long-term winner and a perennial championship contender. They still boast one of the game's top farm systems, headlined by outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the No. 3 prospect in baseball. Not far behind him are pitchers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, outfielder Luis Robert and infielder Nick Madrigal — not to mention the talented young players already playing at the major league level.

The rebuild was initially undertaken with the goal of developing a team that could break the White Sox postseason drought, which has now last more than a decade. And while the positive results of that effort might be slow to arrive on the South Side, the future remains incredibly bright.

When it comes to landing a big-name free agent this winter, the challenge will be convincing him to buy into that bright future. Other teams expected to spend big this offseason — like the New York Yankees, the Philadelphia Phillies and the aforementioned Dodgers — can sell a major league roster currently capable of winning multiple championships with the addition of a superstar like Machado. The White Sox are fresh off a 100-loss season and need to point ot players that haven't yet reached the majors.

It's a challenge, but if playing for a long-term contender is a top priority of players like Machado, it'd be hard to argue that the White Sox haven't set themselves up to be just that.

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Manny Machado tries to clear up 'Johnny Hustle' comments

Manny Machado tries to clear up 'Johnny Hustle' comments

Whether or not front offices across baseball cared much about Manny Machado's comments about not being "Johnny Hustle," one of the biggest fish in this winter's free-agent pond has tried to clarify the remarks that have gone a good way toward defining his offseason to this point.

For those who might not remember, Machado, who reportedly has interest from the White Sox, made big headlines during the playoffs, when after getting criticized for not running out a ground ball, he made the optics so much worse by telling The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal that he'll never be "Johnny Hustle" and that hustling "isn't my cup of tea." That was a scene right out of a public-relations person's nightmare, but it wasn't all that Machado did wrong during the postseason. He also caused mini controversies by interfering with a pair of double-play turns and dragging his foot over the leg of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar.

All those antics combined to make Machado a sort of postseason villain, though he also displayed the incredible talent with the bat and glove that has made him one of the best players in baseball.

But while time supposedly heals all wounds, the "Johnny Hustle" comments have lingered into the offseason, with former players — A.J. Pierzynski being one of them — joining the ranks of those unhappy with an apparent non-hustler. Hence, perhaps, the need for Machado to clear things up, which he did in an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

"When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn't come across how I meant it," Machado said in the interview. "For me, I was trying to talk about how I'm not the guy who is eye wash. There's a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I've always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.

"But I know how I said it and how that came across, and it's something I take responsibility for. I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have."

Again, there's no knowing how Machado's words and actions impacted the thinking of general managers and front offices. Teams have been known to value on-field production over players' perceived attitudes in the past. Only New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, whose team seem to be one of the most likely landing spots for Machado, has had something to say about Machado's comments, specifically "that ain't going to sell where we play baseball."

But for the White Sox, specifically, it has made for an interesting situation. Vocal fans on Twitter long coveted Machado to be the big-money addition to the White Sox rebuilding effort, but the tone changed noticeably during the playoffs, with fans much preferring the South Siders shop elsewhere (and the rumor connecting them to Bryce Harper probably helped). And then there's manager Rick Renteria, who while he would surely appreciate the addition of a talent like Machado to his roster, made many a decision during the 2018 season to bench his players for not hustling out ground balls, pop ups and line outs. How would Machado fit into that culture, which the White Sox praise at every opportunity and committed to enough to give Renteria a contract extension?

Of course, it's important to remember that those poorly worded comments about hustling are hardly the only blemish in Machado's otherwise sensational career. He's had several on-field incidents that ended in the throwing of helmets and bats, and he had an infamous spikes-up slide into Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. His feud with the Red Sox — who just last month defeated him and his Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series — even featured former White Sox pitcher Chris Sale delivering some pitches, let's say, well outside the strike zone.

It makes complete sense that a guy aiming to receive one of the richest contracts in baseball history would try to go on the PR offensive, and it's also believable that those original comments didn't tell the whole story about Machado's approach to the game. The results, of course, speak for themselves, and the four All-Star selections, three top-10 MVP finishes and two Gold Gloves all came before his career year in 2018: a .297/.367/.538 slash line with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs, all career highs.

But whether it's to front offices or just fans, Machado feels he's got some clarifying to do. Maybe he won't be "Johnny Hustle" anytime soon, but he's out to prove he's far from the opposite.

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