White Sox

White Sox confident Rick Renteria can change clubhouse culture

White Sox confident Rick Renteria can change clubhouse culture

When Robin Ventura announced Sunday he wouldn’t return as manager, one of his main reasons for coming to his decision was the need for a “new voice” into the clubhouse. The White Sox view Rick Renteria, despite his bench coach perch next to Ventura in 2016, as providing that new voice. 

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn bristled at the notion that hiring Renteria signaled that this franchise prioritized continuity in the dugout after four consecutive losing seasons. So while Renteria was here for 2016’s 78-win campaign, Hahn believes Renteria will now have the platform to put his own stamp on a club that owns the American League's second-longest playoff drought. 

So, for Hahn, it's less about clubhouse continuity and more about hiring a guy who knows where change needs to be made to pull this franchise out of being mired in mediocrity.

“It’s a completely different role,” Hahn said. “I think his familiarity with the clubhouse culture will help his initial understanding, or already has, about what needs to be improved. Him having already been there for a year and having those relationships will help improve his ability to execute that plan and make it likelier it’s going to be more successful from the start. 

“But when a guy changes roles, there’s a different legitimacy that comes from being the guy in the big chair, so to speak, from being the manager — his influence is going to be greater than it is as the bench coach. He had a tremendous influence on our other coaches, which I think is going to continue. He had a tremendous influence on our players in a positive way, which I think is going to continue. But once he’s in the managerial chair and has the ultimate final say, I think you’re going to see a real change.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!] 

The White Sox, fair or not, had two separate incidents that made national headlines and cast a negative light on the clubhouse culture — players’ emphatic, public defense of Adam LaRoche in spring training, and ace Chris Sale’s destruction of the team’s 1976 throwback jerseys that earned him a five-day suspension. 

Of course, a winning season and contending for the playoffs would’ve pushed whatever negative vibes existed off to the side (the team's 23-10 start quickly made the LaRoche stuff a non-story). But Renteria will take over managerial duties with a more positive, rah-rah tone than Ventura’s even-keel approach. 

“I think (Renteria’s) got a lot of qualities that Robin has,” outfielder Adam Eaton said. “Maybe a little more vocal. He definitely will get his point across a little more, vocally. Not that he has more passion than Robin or anything like that, but he’s a little more upbeat, a little more bouncy. He’s kind of a bundle of baseball joy.”

Hahn said the White Sox would’ve hired Renteria for this position even had he not been with the organization for the last year, but noted that those pre-existing relationships and the ability to evaluate him all season helped bolster his case. 

It’s clear the White Sox, who haven't made the playoffs since 2008 (only the Seattle Mariners, at 15 years, have a longer playoff drought in the AL, while the Miami Marlins haven't reached the postseason in 13 years) need things to change. From the front office’s perspective, the guy to help change things for the better was sitting next to Ventura the whole season. 

“I don’t view hiring a guy who has been here for a year and in our opinion is a candidate who would be on the market in the offseason would be a big triumph for continuity,” Hahn said. “It’s a triumph for finding the highest caliber individual who’s the best fit for us going forward and making that person the manager.” 

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

The White Sox rebuilding puzzle is getting closer to completion.

Zack Collins is reportedly en route to the major leagues, according to a report from Miami talk-show host Andy Slater. That adds another one of the White Sox highly rated prospects to the growing list of them at the big league level as the franchise’s contention window looks set to open relatively soon.

Collins was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, selected with the No. 10 pick that year out of the University of Miami. Currently ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the farm system, he’s always been praised for his offensive abilities. Last season at Double-A Birmingham, he finished the year with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers, also winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

In 48 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Collins owns a .258/.382/.497 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 35 walks.

Collins has been lauded as a big bat, but there have been questions about other parts of his game as he’s risen through the system. From the day he was drafted, there were questions about his defensive ability, leading to speculation that he might one day end up at a position besides catcher. He’s also racked up the strikeouts in the minors, with 396 of them in 322 games over his four minor league seasons.

But the White Sox haven’t wavered in their confidence that Collins can be a big league catcher, and it looks like that’s the position he’ll fill should the White Sox call him up before the start of next week’s Crosstown series with the Cubs. Welington Castillo was removed from Sunday’s loss to the New York Yankees with back tightness. The team said Castillo will be reevaluated on Monday. With this report of Collins’ promotion, it looks like Castillo could be headed to the injured list.

Another top prospect reaching the majors adds another tangible example of rebuilding progress. Fans have been clamoring for the promotions of Dylan Cease and Luis Robert all season long, and while Collins might be a little further down in the rankings than those two, this should still please fans who, even in a season filled with positives, want to see a more rapid advancement toward the rebuild’s ultimate goal.

Collins will perhaps benefit from a lack of pressure, what with James McCann in the midst of a potentially All-Star season as the White Sox primary catcher. The White Sox could perhaps continue to lean on McCann, allowing Collins to ease into the major leagues.

But just like Michael Kopech last August and Eloy Jimenez in March, Collins’ mere arrival is a step forward in this process, one that should please fans immensely.

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Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues


Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

Yoan Moncada's battle with his back issues might not be as over as we thought.

The third baseman made his return to the White Sox starting lineup Sunday following a four-game layoff due to a mild back strain. But his return didn't last long. After a fourth-inning strikeout in his second plate appearance of the 10-3 loss to the visiting New York Yankees, Moncada was removed from the game with what the team announced as upper back tightness.

Moncada is described as day to day. The White Sox have an off day Monday ahead of the start of a two-game Crosstown series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

"He's doing good. I think I'm not the only one who noticed his grimace in the swing. It made no sense to continue to expose him to that," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "All indications are he should be ready to go on Tuesday.

"Didn't seem to put him in any predicament. Hopefully it didn't set him back. All indications are that hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."

Moncada was removed from Monday's game against the Washington Nationals with what was initially described as back spasms. Renteria updated the verbiage to a back strain in the following days. Moncada missed Tuesday's game against the Nationals, went through a Wednesday off day and then missed the first three games of the four-game weekend set with the Yankees. His return lasted all of four innings Sunday before he was taken out again.

"Just watching the swing, watching the finish, which is what I was concerned with, getting through the ball. He's ready to get through the ball, it's just the finish. He's feeling a little something there," Renteria said. "You can't replicate it in any drill work. We've tried to do it. Everything he did was good. All the work he did was good.

"Everything we tried to do to replicate it, it wasn't existent until you get into the game, then you know. That's why I think it was a good — I don't know if you want to call it a test, but it was a test. We wanted to see where he was at. Didn't make any sense to continue to push him. Get him ready and calm it down and get him ready for the series against the North Siders."

Moncada wasn't the only White Sox hitter removed from Sunday's game. Welington Castillo, who was the designated hitter, was taken out with what the team announced as lower back tightness. Renteria confirmed after the game that Castillo's injury came on his swing in the second inning, a line drive off the center-field wall that ended up as only a single. Castillo will be reevaluated during the off day Monday.

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