White Sox

White Sox enjoy Adam Eaton's spectacular start


White Sox enjoy Adam Eaton's spectacular start

Adam Eaton didn’t want to talk about his hot start to the season on Friday morning.

The leadoff man opted to let his performance speak for itself and was focused on the White Sox, who at 3-1 are off to their best start since 2005.

The first White Sox player with four straight multi-hit games to open a campaign since Nellie Fox in 1955, Eaton declined the only question about his performance in a group media session and instead discussed Friday’s hot topic, club chemistry.

“(The start) gives us confidence, definitely,” Eaton said. “It gives fans confidence. I think the credit is how we came together in spring training. Anybody who was in Arizona throughout spring training can second and back me when I say we really came together as a unit from Day 1 to when we left for San Diego. These are a special group of guys. We’re all pulling in the same direction, and that was pretty prevalent in the first four games of the season.”

[MORE: White Sox ace first chemistry test]

A year after he had a miserable start to the season, Eaton’s 2016 is headed in a much better direction.

In 2015, Eaton didn’t produce an RBI in his first 109 plate appearances. He hit .192 through the end of April and had a .497 OPS. Even though everyone struggled, Eaton wore it the hardest and missed three games with the flu in early May.

But then he rebounded and he hasn’t stopped hitting since.

Eaton had an .834 OPS after May 5 last season.

And through four games this season, Eaton’s play has been ridiculous.

He’s 9-for-16 and has reached base 11 times in 18 plate appearances. Eaton too has adjusted well to playing right field, tracking down most everything hit his way.

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“We know he would always be an important tablesetter piece for us at the top of the order,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Certainly this last extended stretch here has been even beyond what I think would be reasonable to expect from a production standpoint. But from an important point of our lineup standpoint, it’s consistent with our expectations, meaning when he’s going well, it helps the rest of the line keep moving and runs scored.

“I think the only thing that probably surprises me with regards to Adam is some of the criticism that’s heaped upon him for small flaws in his game. Obviously there’s a few base running blunders here or there that he needs to clean up and is working on. Diving into bags at times, potentially risk some injury his first year here that we talked about.

“But this is an extremely valuable piece to a successful club and based on some of the criticisms or suggestions I’ve read over the last few months on him, I think some folks might miss his merit. They miss the benefit of what he does.”

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED


White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: