White Sox

White Sox, Alex Avila not too worried about catcher's sore lower back

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White Sox, Alex Avila not too worried about catcher's sore lower back

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Alex Avila said his lower back stiffens every spring as his body adjusts once again to catching on a regular basis.

This latest round, which forced the White Sox catcher to exit Saturday’s 9-7 loss to the Cincinnati Reds early, is actually tamer than most. Avila — who said he felt his back grab during a third-inning at-bat — said he’s being cautious and isn’t overly concerned. Avila is listed as day to day with a sore lower back.

“Normally I get a little stiff back every spring training,” Avila said. “I’m a lot better. You see I’m standing up straight. Usually I’m hunched over for a week. But I didn’t want it to get to that point.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“Something I deal with every single year.”

Avila knows to expect a stiff back. The veteran said he has felt some stiffness over the past week and will re-evaluate on Sunday. But the soreness is part of breaking his body in after four months of being off — an aspect of the game that can’t be replicated in any workout.

“It’s like I’m breaking in my body to catch again,” Avila said. “Once I get over it, I normally don’t have any issues.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the move is more about precaution than anything. At this point, Ventura doesn’t anticipate anything serious.

[MORE: Jose Abreu has worked on scooping throws out of dirt]

“He was walking around all right,” Ventura said. “It tightened up on him somewhat. Going through that game you’re not going to risk it.”

Even if he misses a few days, Avila has had plenty of time to accomplish what he needs. His body has felt good for all but the past few days as he has worked back into baseball shape. And Avila has caught every pitcher likely to make the team’s Opening Day roster.

“Spring has gone really smooth this year,” Avila said. “I mean, despite today for me physically, I feel really good. Usually I’m, when it comes to my back, I’m a little more hunched over. But everything has gone really smooth as far as catching the pitchers, getting to know those guys and forming those relationships.”

Major League Baseball swinging and missing on big opportunity

Major League Baseball swinging and missing on big opportunity

Major League Baseball was lobbed an 0-2 pitch right over the center of the plate. Not only did it swing and miss, it fell over into a cloud of dust.

In the middle of a global pandemic, baseball had a chance to be America’s symbol of hope. Summer’s pastime should have been a rallying cry and a source of healing. And with that would have come a vast number of eyeballs, new fans and high television ratings.

The long-term gain for baseball was obvious. All it needed was leaders of the game to come together with cool heads and good faith to hash out an agreement.

Apparently, that wasn’t possible.

I’m using past tense because it feels like the damage has already been done. I still believe baseball will be played in 2020, but the potential goodwill that could have been built up with fans feels lost.

The easy thing to do is blame the players for being greedy. But would you do your job for 25 percent of your salary, as some players are being asked to do?

But this is an extraordinary situation and these millionaires have plenty of money and are just playing a game!

That’s way too simplistic of a view that lacks decades of context between baseball’s players and owners, but the players still showed some awareness of that line of thinking when they agreed to prorated salaries back in March. This is a sport with guaranteed contracts and the players agreed that if they only play half the games, they should only receive half of their money. In return, the owners agreed to grant players full service time in 2020 no matter how many games are played.

It was a common-sense agreement in the midst of a crisis and suggested that goodwill could be built up in a sport that hasn’t had very much trust over the last few years.

But two months later, the situation is very different. The owners, perhaps with the realities of their short-term losses setting in, are asking the players to take even more cuts. The players have balked. The fans have lost.

There’s been a lot of extreme rhetoric during these negotiations, but this independent piece by entrepreneur Roger Ehnrenberg does a good job of explaining why owners are essentially asking players to finance their short-term losses from COVID-19.

Ehnrenberg writes: “During COVID-19, there has been a short-term hit to asset value as ticket sales, ad revenues, merchandise sales, etc. have slowed to a trickle. The owners have fixed costs (like stadium leases and/or maintenance, supporting the farm system and supposedly player contracts) that need to be covered regardless of revenues, so on a cash flow basis the lack of baseball is costing them real cash. But guess what — this is what being an equity owner is — benefiting from the ups but paying for the downs. But that’s not what the owners want — they want their highly compensated employees to cushion the blow, without any return for what is an implicit financing of the owners by these players.”

Look at it like this: If players insisted on receiving their full, already agreed-upon prorated salaries, but also agreed to defer the payments in effort to help cash flow problems in 2020, they’d essentially be financing the owners with zero interest. From a business perspective, this alone would be a generous offer from the players and multiple sources have told NBC Sports Chicago that deferred payments could end up being the compromise in this situation.

But the proposal sent to the MLBPA earlier this week asked for more. At this point, the players are not expected to respond to that proposal. Instead, they’ll come up with their own proposal.

Ehrenberg details other conventional ways owners can cover their short-term losses. For example, they could secure a bank loan. Or, on the more extreme end, they could sell part of the team.

“This is the way things work in the real business world,” he writes.

The smart move is for baseball to embrace the long-term gains that can come with getting back on the field and being a symbol of hope in America. This would bring new fans to the game and heal wounds with others that have left the game.

Operating in good faith and assuming a short-term financial hit might not be the easy thing for owners to do, but it is the right thing to do for baseball. The money and profits will still be there in the future and there will be more of it if the sport is able to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Instead, Major League Baseball is alienating its players and fans even more than it has in the past. What’s especially concerning is the impact the current disagreements will have on the next labor negotiations in 2021.

The quick, sensible negotiations in March pointed to potential peace and respect between the two sides. Indeed, this was an opportunity for owners to regain the trust that has eroded over the last three years. Instead, that opportunity appears to be lost.

Baseball can’t stomach the complete loss of the 2020 season. Add in a labor strife when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021? Ouch.

Someone in Major League Baseball must see the damage that is being done. The 0-2 pitch right down the middle was spoiled. Perhaps there’s still a chance to get back in the game.

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White Sox selling special T-shirts to support Chicago coronavirus response

White Sox selling special T-shirts to support Chicago coronavirus response

Want to get a cool-looking White Sox T-shirt and support an important cause at the same time?

You're in luck.

The White Sox announced Friday that they're selling T-shirts with a pair of limited-edition designs to support the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.

The shirts, sporting elements of the White Sox logos, the Chicago city flag and the slogan "Chicago Together," went on sale at whitesox.com/chicagotogether at 10 a.m. Friday morning.

RELATED: Eloy Jiménez makes surprise donation to workers making masks in Little Village

As the White Sox mentioned in their announcement, the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund is a collaboration with the City of Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago that disburses funds to local nonprofit organizations serving the region’s most vulnerable neighbors. In March, the White Sox and the Bulls commited $200,000 to support the fund.

NBC Sports Chicago put on the "Be Chicago" fundraiser show to support the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. You can watch that show in its entirety right here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.