White Sox

Ventura finishes behind Melvin, Showalter for AL Manager of the Year

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Ventura finishes behind Melvin, Showalter for AL Manager of the Year

Robin Ventura drew praise from around baseball for his work with the White Sox in 2012, his first season at any level as a manager. While the Sox faded down the stretch, Ventura guided them into a playoff race few expected to materialize. He also oversaw the rebound seasons of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy, three players who struggled mightily in Ozzie Guillen's final year on the White Sox bench.

"Like they say in football, some guys have a nose for the football. Some guys have a nose for managing. I think he does, I think he's done a great job, a terrific job," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in September. "I don't know this, but I think he's kind of let them play, just play the game, just go play the game. He's not pushing. He's figured it out pretty quick, really. And it helps when you got good players."

New York's Nick Swisher, who was embroiled in a public spat with Guillen after leaving Chicago, saw from afar the same shift with Ventura managing the White Sox.

"It seems like he's got them all nice and laid back, which is very different than what it was before," Swisher said in August. "But whatever he's doing over there seems to be working."

When it came down to Manger of the Year honors, though, Ventura was fighting an uphill battle. Oakland's Bob Melvin garnered the award after managing the Athletics to an improbable AL West title, taking out the powerhouse Rangers on the final day of the season. And Baltimore's Buck Showalter finished just behind Melvin in the voting after taking the Orioles from the depths of the AL East to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

I want to congratulate Bob Melvin on winning the award," Ventura said in a statement released by the White Sox. "Bob and Buck (Showalter) did great jobs this season and both really were deserving. For me to be considered for this award, especially in my first season, is a great honor but really its more of a reflection on the players and coaches. They put in the hard work from day one of spring training until the last out of the season and made my job easier.

Ventura finished third, and while the 2012 White Sox won't consider themselves a success, looking at the big picture Ventura navigated his first season fairly well.

Leyland -- who wound up taking Detroit to the World Series -- offered an explanation for part of Ventura's managerial success back in September.

"He was smart enough to know that this place, probably, at the time he got here just needed to get settled in," Leyland explained. "Just settle it in, without a lot of whatever you want to call it. He was smart enough to do that."

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: