White Sox

White Sox ace first chemistry test

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White Sox ace first chemistry test

Whether it’s in the form of Brett Lawrie hollering in the dugout or Melky Cabrera leading postgame dance parties, the White Sox feel like their clubhouse chemistry is already in a good place. 

Good chemistry, of course, doesn’t guarantee on-field success. But for a sport that has a 162-game regular season, having that positive vibe is one of those nebulously-important things to the 25 guys in a clubhouse. 

The White Sox didn’t have a clubhouse vibe during 2015’s disappointing summer, but it did take a while for the different personalities on the team to gel together. Just four games into the 2016 season, one of this year’s new acquisitions feels like the group he joined has already developed a certain cohesion. 

“We have a lot of new guys here and sometimes it takes a while for everybody to blend in,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “That first week, everybody kinda saw Brett Lawrie get the energy, get crazy, everybody loves it. We’re focused on Chris Sale dominating. We just got guys that fit in with each other from all different walks of life and natural abilities that they have.”

Chemistry isn’t necessary to winning, but Frazier said not having it can make it more difficult for a team to pull out of an early rut. The White Sox started off last season 0-3 and, outside of a late-July run, never seemed to dig themselves out of that hole. 

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Frazier offered an example of the effects of good chemistry: Players see Jimmy Rollins, a 17-year major league veteran, taking extra infield work and can be motivated to get better because of it. 

Outfielder Adam Eaton, who’s been here for the flat showings of 2014 and 2015, agreed, noting that the gelling of this group came quickly after arriving in Arizona for spring training. 

“Guys are all pulling in the same direction,” Eaton said. “We haven’t had that in the last couple of years. It’s a good feel.” 

Entering Friday’s home opener against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox had played 2 percent of their 2016 schedule. And winning three of four games against the Oakland Athletics certainly helps keep the clubhouse atmosphere an enjoyable, supportive one.  

Whether that means anything for the team’s success throughout the season remains to be seen. But for now, it’s a nice start — certainly better than last year’s.

“You have to win to be able to do it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “But you’re talking about guys who have been around a little bit and there’s different pieces that go with it. This seems to be a group that respects each other and enjoys being around each other but they can also play and that’s the biggest thing. 

“It’s always hard to put your thumb on it exactly how it happens, where it happens, when it happens. I think that was identified pretty early with these guys.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.