White Sox

White Sox downplay possible backlash from Sale/V-Mart incident

whitesoxsalemartinezincident.png

White Sox downplay possible backlash from Sale/V-Mart incident

DETROIT -- The White Sox head into their first meeting with the Detroit Tigers believing that last season’s Chris Sale/Victor Martinez incident is in the past.

They expect no carryover from the extra curricular activities from their final meeting of 2014, when Sale hit Martinez with a sixth-inning pitch and benches emptied, though no punches were thrown.

“We’re here to play baseball,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said quickly when asked if expected any trouble. “You guys can carry on what you want, but we’re here to win a game.”

Things got heated last Sept. 24 when Sale struck Martinez in the left shoulder with a pitch in the designated hitter’s third plate appearance. Martinez stared at Sale as he walked to first base and Sale interacted, pointing toward center field as he had earlier in the game after he struck out the Tigers slugger. The benches and bullpens cleared but both teams left the field without further incident. After he left the game, Sale -- who didn’t comment on Friday morning -- made what appeared to be binoculars with his hands from the bench, a move Detroit players later mocked during a game-winning rally.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Carlos Rodon not as sharp in second AAA start]

Both Sale and his teammates denied that they suspected Martinez of getting outside help from anyone with binoculars.

“I think that was heat of the battle, in the game kind of thing,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We haven’t discussed it since that time.

“I think (it’s over). I guess we all will find out. To my knowledge, nothing has been brought up about it.

“I think that was the heat of the battle toward the end of a long a competitive season playing against each other, beating each other up. That was just part of it during that game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

Locked in a tight pennant race, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was incensed that an opposing pitcher could potentially injure one of his players at a time when his own pitchers couldn’t retaliate for fear of a suspension.

Ventura, who spoke to Ausmus after that game and again over the winter, downplayed the possibility of any potential retaliation. Martinez isn’t in Detroit’s lineup on Friday and Sale is expected to start here on Saturday.

“We’re here to play baseball,” Ventura said. “Everybody else can scare up whatever they want.” 

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

lopez.jpg
USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

After a rough outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 4 — his last before the All-Star break — White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez vowed to be a different pitcher going forward.

“At this point, after a really bad first half, there's not much I can say about that. Starting today, you're going to see a different pitcher going forward for the second half of the season,” Lopez said after his July 4 start through team interpreter Billy Russo. “What is done is done. There's nothing else that I can do to change what is done.

“I can do different things to get better and to be a better pitcher for the year and that's what I'm going to do.”

Two outings later, and Lopez is nearing the point where he can say “I told you so.”

Lopez has come out of the break firing on all cylinders after struggling to a 4-8 record and MLB-worst 6.34 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. Friday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk compared to eight strikeouts. This follows his brilliant outing against the Athletics on Sunday in which he pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and one run — albeit unearned — with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Lopez exited Sunday’s game in line for a win before the White Sox bullpen slipped up. The offense allowed no such opportunity on Friday, tallying 16 hits en route to a 9-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s Lopez’s first win since June 9 against the Kansas City Royals and the White Sox first win after the break, snapping a seven-game skid.

Lopez has received a fair share of criticism this season for his struggles, but his recent success should not come as much of a surprise considering how he fared in 2018. The 25-year-old posted a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 151 batters in 188 2/3 innings.

Lopez’s strikeout rate in 2019 is up compared to 2018 (8.19 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.20 in 2018) and his walk rate is down (3.32 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018). The major difference is that opponents are hitting .284 against him this season compared to .234 in 2018, while also holding a .319 BABIP, up from .260 last season.

It may just be two starts, but Lopez is backing up his vow to pitch better. Between Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and the returns of Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox future starting rotation is in good hands. Getting Lopez back to pitching how he did in 2018 will only take that group to the next level.

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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

baines_podcast.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

Chuck Garfien sits down with new Hall of Famer Harold Baines.

First, Chuck, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka share their memories of watching Baines play with the White Sox (1:40). Then, Baines explains why he's always been so soft-spoken (8:45), how he was able to play 22 seasons in the majors (13:00), why he's never spoken to GM Larry Himes for trading him to Texas (15:30), the apology he received from President George W. Bush (16:30), what he thinks about the critics who don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame (18:25), a replay of Baines emotional interview with Chuck about his dad (20:50) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: