White Sox

White Sox enjoy light moment when Todd Frazier establishes club homer record

White Sox enjoy light moment when Todd Frazier establishes club homer record

MINNEAPOLIS -- Todd Frazier had been talking trash for 3 1/2 weeks, which had Robin Ventura ready to handle the barrage of garbage he knew was headed his direction on Friday night.

Born with a gift for the gab, Frazier couldn’t even wait until he reached the dugout to start digging in on Ventura after he established a new franchise record for home runs by a third baseman with his 35th, a game-tying, two-run shot to center in the fourth inning.

Just as he rounded third base, Frazier stared into the White Sox dugout in search of Ventura. Seconds later, he approached Ventura, who was seated on the back bench, and extended his hand. But to the delight of White Sox players, a stone-faced Ventura stared through Frazier’s soul without once acknowledging his presence.

“Everybody wanted me to freeze him out,” Ventura said. “So I froze him out as long as I could.

“He’s been playing with it for quite a while. Everybody wanted me to freeze him. I think I did my part.”

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Depending on how you look at it, Frazier moved past Ventura with his 34th homer on Thursday and actually surpassed Bill Melton’s record on Friday.

Then the starting third baseman, Ventura blasted 34 homers in 1996. But only 32 of those came with Ventura playing the hot corner. He hit one while playing first base and one as a pinch-hitter. Melton slugged 33 homers in 1971, all of which came with him at third.

Of Frazier’s 35, 34 have come at third base with one coming while he played first.

But none of that mattered to Frazier, who knew as early as Aug. 9 he had a good shot at setting the record. That’s the day he crushed his 31st homer and Frazier has been talking trash ever since -- even as he endured a 14-game homerless streak.

Frazier applauded Ventura’s commitment to the gag. When Frazier hit his 33rd homer on Tuesday, Ventura joked and told him he had a nice season, but it was over.

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“I guess there was disappointment,” Frazier said. “He told me he was going to take me out the other day and not let me play for the rest of the season. There was going to be some trouble there, but it was all in fun. Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. It was cool, one of my goals halfway through the year. It was my goal, that I wanted to get him.

“I was trying to find him (as I rounded third), but I think he was hiding in there. He played it off well. It made for a good little story.

“It was great. It was perfect. They said it was on TV too as well. A good little memory, and hopefully we can still be friends.”

As he began his postgame media session, Ventura joked it was tough to lose the record. He continued his ribbing after Frazier returned to his stall in the visiting clubhouse, noting that when he played the fences were 347 feet.

“It’s a sad day around here when one of those goes down,” Ventura said. “You’re proud of him. You like to see him break a record, but I don’t like it to be mine. We had some fun with it and you’re happy for him.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the White Sox wait for their All Stars of the future to develop, Jose Abreu is representing the club at the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital.

Abreu, elected by the fans to be the American League’s starting first baseman Tuesday night, might represent the White Sox present, but he’s a key part of their future, as well. While his contract situation remains a mystery — the team would need to extend him in order to keep around past the 2019 season — he’s helping to develop the players who are planned to make up the next contending group on the South Side.

No player is more under Abreu’s guiding hand than Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban who just a season ago was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada’s development from top prospect into star of the future is the biggest storyline of the season for the White Sox. And Abreu, the role model in this clubhouse, is in part tasked with helping Moncada do just that.

“Our friendship is special,” Moncada said through a team translator last week. “We’re always talking about everything, having fun. He gives me advice, and I always try to make fun of him. Our relationship has been for a long time. We were friends in Cuba. And now we are rejoined here. It’s just a very good relationship. I’m blessed having him here.”

“He’s a Cuban, and it’s always special to play with a fellow Cuban countryman. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said through a team translator Monday. “I think that it’s a blessing. The White Sox did all that they could do for us to play together. I’m just enjoying the moment and every day with him. It’s special. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”

Abreu is often lauded by White Sox brass as the perfect example of what they want their young players to become. His incredible production makes that an easy comparison: He put up at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. But it’s what he does outside the lines that gets the highest praise. Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all of Abreu’s teammates constantly talk about his work ethic, his routine, his dedication to getting better and the way he goes about his business.

Moncada’s noticed. And he sees Abreu’s latest accomplishment — getting picked as an All-Star starter — as vindication that, yes, Abreu’s methods certainly work.

“Knowing him, knowing all the effort that he puts into his preparation, his work ethic, all that work that he puts into his preparation is paying off and he’s recognized with this election,” Moncada said. “That’s something that motivates you, something that lets you know that if you do things the right way, you’re going to get rewarded. For me, it’s a motivation, and I feel really honored to share this team with him.”

Moncada’s first full season in the bigs hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s had his hot stretches — including the last couple weeks; he’s slashing .356/.453/.644 since July 2 — but he’s also had long periods of struggles. Certain aspects, such as a propensity for striking out and making errors at second base, have been constants throughout the campaign.

Renteria refers to the mistakes and the poor results as teachable moments. Does he have a proxy teacher in Abreu?

“I tell him to enjoy the game,” Abreu said. “Enjoy the game, have fun, be a little more focused on the situation of the game. But I think the key is to have fun.”

Mostly, though, Abreu is convinced that Moncada will blossom into the kind of player White Sox fans hoped he would when he brought that top-prospect track record to the organization in the Chris Sale trade. The expectations are undoubtedly high, but Abreu’s been seeing Moncada meet them for some time. The two have known each other since the younger Moncada was 17 years old.

“I think that he was born with special abilities to play this sport,” Abreu said. “Before I met him, there were a lot of people talking about him in Cuba because of his abilities, the talent that he has. And when I met him, it was a very special moment. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘Wow, what people say about him is true.’ His body type, his ability to play the game. He’s special.”

So will the All Star of today and the All Star of tomorrow one day share the All-Star stage?

“I would like to have that opportunity. Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity,” Abreu said. “If that happens, that would be really special for us.”