White Sox

White Sox earn series victory behind Mat Latos, Jose Abreu


White Sox earn series victory behind Mat Latos, Jose Abreu

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mat Latos is hopeful he’s over a rough two years and is ready to move ahead with his new team.

The White Sox pitcher tapped into some of his past success on Thursday afternoon as he exceeded expectations in his 2016 debut. Latos delivered six scoreless innings and Jose Abreu homered as the White Sox poured it on late in a 6-1 victory over the Oakland A’s in front of 12,577 at the Oakland Coliseum.

Injured the past two seasons and unpopular with some former Cincinnati Reds teammates after he made critical comments, Latos made a strong impression on the White Sox, who at 3-1 are off to their best start since 2005. Though he still feels as if he has more work to accomplish, the right-hander is pleased after he allowed only one hit and walked one against the A’s.

“Last year I had some bad karma from past stuff that was said,” Latos said. “I took it and then get kind of mentally messed up and kind of battling through something that I wasn’t used to with the knee. I’m used to having my legs under me and then really not understanding that I really have to work twice as hard if not more to get back to where I need to be.

“I’m healthy, but I still feel like there’s more I could do. I still have to strengthen. I wouldn’t say I necessarily have 100 percent of my legs under because of that. But I’m good, I’m healthy. I’m strong and I think it shows today. It’s great to turn the page from last year and start off really well.”

[MORE: White Sox must quickly acclimate to new surroundings]

Latos’ spring offered few hints of what was to come Thursday.

He built off Friday night’s outing in San Diego, one manager Robin Ventura described as encouraging. But even then, Latos only pitched 4 1/3 innings before he surrendered three earned runs.

Thursday was different.

Six of the first 13 hitters Latos faced hit ground balls as the right-hander kept his pitches down in the zone. Working with a fastball that ranged from 87-91, Latos used his entire arsenal to keep the A’s off balance. Through four hitless innings, Latos didn’t yield any hard-hit balls.

“He did a great job getting ahead, which is the most important thing,” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “He mixed his pitches really well. He spotted his fastball really well.

“He’s done it before, he’s been in that situation before. He knows what he has to do. I just try to guide him the best I can.”

Latos gave all credit to Navarro for the way he handled him. When he arrived in camp, Latos said one reason he signed with the White Sox was to once again work with Navarro, whom he briefly played with in Cincinnati in 2012. Latos trusts Navarro and said he only shook him off once during an 88-pitch effort, only to step off the mound and go back to the veteran catcher’s gameplan.

“I had a good pitch, or what I thought was a good pitch,” Latos said. “He kind of paused and kind of tilted his head at me and I stepped off the mound and was like ‘Whatever you want. Ok, boom let’s go.’ Called the pitch and we went after it.”

[MORE: White Sox bullpen busier than normal to start regular season]

Latos wouldn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and even that took a misplayed fly ball by J.B. Shuck (he dropped a foul ball) and a 3-2 single by Chris Coghlan with one out.

Latos, who didn’t complete five innings in any of his three spring training starts, looked as if he could be in trouble in the fifth when he issued a two-out walk to Marcus Semien. But Brett Lawrie made nice diving stop up the middle and flipped in time to second base for the force to get out of the jam.

Lawrie made another diving stop in the sixth inning and Latos rode it to another perfect frame, one of four 1-2-3 three-up, three-downs.

“There are a lot of things you see (in Arizona) that might not happen when you get to the regular season,” Ventura said. “So we didn’t really know. It being for real and being out there, the competitive part came out of him. You just tip your cap to him the way he did it.”

The White Sox offense offered its own belated round of applause.

After they were stymied by Oakland starter Kendall Graveman for five innings, the White Sox finally broke through.

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Melky Cabrera, who earlier singled, drew a four-pitch walk to start the sixth inning and Abreu destroyed a 91-mph sinker down the middle, driving it out to right for two-run homer.

The offense came to life in the ninth inning when Avisail Garcia opened with a single against reliever Liam Hendriks. Pinch runner Austin Jackson stole second and moved to third on Lawrie’s bloop single. Navarro ripped an RBI single off the right field wall to make it 3-0. Tyler Saladino and Cabrera also had RBI singles and Abreu’s sac fly made it 6-0.

Adam Eaton also singled in the rally and is 9-for-16 to start the season. Eaton is the first White Sox player to open the season with four straight multi-hit games since Nellie Fox in 1955.

Sox Drawer Q&A: Joe Girardi, Enoy Jimenez and Chris Sale's 'infected' belly button


Sox Drawer Q&A: Joe Girardi, Enoy Jimenez and Chris Sale's 'infected' belly button

We made it above 60 degrees in Chicago today: A cause for celebration and another edition of the Sox Drawer. Questions from White Sox fans range from Joe Girardi to Enoy Jimenez (yes, Enoy) to Chris Sale’s “infected” belly button. Here we go.

Q: Jon Heyman tweeted out earlier that Joe Girardi pulled out of the Reds managerial search because he wants to wait a year for the Chicago job. Do you think he’s talking about the Sox? — @piratedwight

CG: I don’t know if the report is true or not, but what I do know is that Girardi grew up a Cubs fan and he later played for the Cubs. Put those two together and I’d assume he would love to manage them in the future. Something to consider: The main reason Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave for firing Girardi in 2017 was that he felt he had trouble communicating and connecting with the young players. For a young, rebuilding team like the White Sox, that might be a red flag. Granted, that’s the Yankees' side of the story. Personally, I don’t think he’s interested in managing the White Sox.

Q: Who do you want the Sox to draft with the 3rd pick? Do some research. — @Frankie_OConnor

CG: If you look at most mock drafts right now, you’ll see high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. going first, followed by Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (Nick Madrigal’s teammate) and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers. Rutschman’s stock went way up because of his play in the College World Series, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player. Langeliers won a Gold Glove in 2018, named the best defensive catcher in Division I. He nailed 70 percent of would-be base stealers. Umm, I’ll take that.

The White Sox took Zack Collins with the 10th overall pick in 2016. White Sox scouting director Nick Hostelter always says “take the best player available.” Would they draft another catcher with their top pick again? Possibly.

You know what, why don’t we hear from Hostetler himself? I asked him to describe the talent level at the top of next year’s draft.

“Overall the ‘19 draft has a little bit of everything up top,” Hostetler said. “There are some interesting high school bats and arms, as well as some college bats and a few college arms that are intriguing. I’m not sure there’s a clear top five at this point, but as we’ve seen in past years, the guys sitting at the top of all the lists and mock drafts today usually change come the first Monday in June.”

In other words, let’s talk again in June. The best part about this? The White Sox will be in position to grab a very talented player for their future.

Q: After the most recent international signing of Eloy Jimenez’s brother, Enoy, do you think he could get close to the level of Eloy? Eloy wasn’t a known prospect until a few years ago, keep in mind. — @Dehhmac_

CG: In case you missed it, the White Sox signed Eloy’s 17-year-old brother to a baseball contract Sunday. Eloy posted a photo of him and his smiling brother wearing a White Sox hat and jersey.

By the way, if you do a Google search for “Enoy Jimenez,” Google will ask: “Did you mean Eloy Jimenez?” Even Google can’t believe it.

We don’t know too much about little Enoy. I say little because he’s tiny compared to his big brother. See the video we found on YouTube which was posted a couple of weeks ago. Enoy is wearing a White Sox retro tank top and a Charlotte Knights hat. If anything, he’ll fit right in at SoxFest. Seriously, he has some great baseball DNA, so he’s got that going for him. He’s an infielder. That’s about all we know. As MLB Trade Rumors put it, “scouting information on the younger Jimenez brother is virtually non-existent.”

Q: We know that Rick Hahn plays things close to the vest. In your opinion, do the White Sox view Matt Davidson as a viable two-way option? Personally, I'd like to see how he does in close games. — @emm528

CG: I know Davidson is quite serious about it. I’m not sure about the White Sox side of things. When I asked Don Cooper during the season about the possibility of Davidson having a more permanent role in the bullpen, he seemed skeptical about the idea. That said, if Davidson comes to spring training and impresses the coaching staff, they might be open to it. Davidson told me in September that he needs to train his body during the offseason so he could handle the workload as a pitcher. He just basically winged it in emergency duty last season. At one point after one of his appearances, he needed around two weeks for his body to get back to normal. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull it off.

Q: You got to be by the dugout for most home games this year. What’s something that goes on in the dugout during a game that fans at home wouldn’t know? — @PeteCha56613119

CG: Davidson likes to throw gum at me.

Q: Chris Sale. Discuss. — @sccerlaw​​​​​​​

CG: If you’re asking about Sale getting an infection from a belly-button ring, he was joking. Sale likes to have fun with the media. Remember in 2014, when he tried to work in a specific word during his postgame media scrums? He said things like juxtapose, acquiesce, capitulated, ruminate, amalgamation. Waiting to hear what his next Harvard vocabulary word was one of the highlights of a rough fourth-place season. Sale did miss his start in Game 5 of the ALCS because of an unspecified stomach illness. Keep in mind, he’s probably taking medication for an inflamed shoulder. But he says he’s 100-percent ready now for Game 1 of the World Series.

Q: If the White Sox win the World Series next year will you get a belly button ring? — @vlamas05​​​​​​​

CG: Sure.

Q: Why don't the White Sox have a museum in the park? About 1/3 of the league does and most of those teams have half the history the Sox do. — @Gnome89​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. For this one, I went right to the source and asked Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“We used to have a small museum that fans could walk through which was attached to our team store," Boyer said. "Years ago, we converted that space as demand for a wider selection of retail products grew. We do have a museum-like historical display in the Magellan Scout Seats and have put many of the significant moments in our history on the columns leading to the sections on the 100 level. This past season we had a Negro League Museum traveling display in the Chicago Sports Depot.

"We continue to look for ways to display our history, and the Depot may very well be the best place, but, at this point, there are no plans for a permanent museum location.”

Q: Who do you see the White Sox going after in free agency this year? — @Grank2410​​​​​​​

CG: I wrote about my top five free agents last week. I don’t know for sure who the White Sox will sign, but I’d like to see them add a veteran hitter or two who have playoff experience, who know what it takes to win and can impart that on the young hitters.

Q: When will the Sox change their uniforms? — @ckottlarock​​​​​​​

CG: Personally, I’d wear the 1983 throwbacks for every game, home and away. But that’s just me.

Q: Can we please not get Machado? Can we get Nolan Arenado instead? — @drobaseball555​​​​​​​

CG: Rick Hahn, if you’re reading this, @drobaseball555 wants Arenado. Got it?

Thanks everyone for all of your questions. We’ll do it again next week.

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Update: Our Chuck Garfien found this video of Enoy taking some cuts with his big brother — all decked out in White Sox gear, too.