White Sox

White Sox fall to Orioles in Miguel Gonzalez's return to Baltimore

White Sox fall to Orioles in Miguel Gonzalez's return to Baltimore

BALTIMORE — A potentially great homecoming for Miguel Gonzalez on Friday night was bamboozled by a rookie who had been promoted only a day earlier.

Fighting off an abundance of emotions, Gonzalez looked good against the team that released him only 13 months ago. But the Baltimore Orioles got a huge boost from Gabriel Ynoa, who pitched six scoreless innings in relief. Behind Ynoa the Orioles held off the White Sox 4-2 in front of 20,302 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Gonzalez was saddled with the loss despite allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings as Ynoa shut down the White Sox after entering in the middle of the first inning.

“Everything was going on in my head,” Gonzalez said. “This is where I started my career in the big leagues. The Orioles gave me my first opportunity. But now I’m with the White Sox, happy to be here and we’re doing a good job.”

The best effort of the night belonged to Ynoa, who was promoted on Thursday. He entered the game with two outs in the top of the first inning when the White Sox literally knocked Orioles starter Wade Miley out of the contest.

Jose Abreu hit the first of two direct shots back at Miley when he lined a ball 103 mph off the pitcher’s wrist for a single, one of three hits for Abreu. After several warmup tosses and a demonstration that he was fine, Miley was allowed to remain in the game. But he only last two more pitches before Avisail Garcia lined one 102 mph off Miley’s backside, which led to the veteran pitcher’s exit. Miley officially exited with a left wrist contusion.

Ynoa — who on April 7 allowed seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings to the White Sox Triple-A Charlotte squad — didn’t flinch as he made his warmup tosses, entered the game and retired Matt Davidson to end the first inning with two aboard. Ynoa retired 16 of the first 20 he faced and pitched well into the seventh inning.

Ynoa allowed six hits, walked none and struck out five while throwing strikes on 69 of 101 pitches. His biggest escape of the night came in the fifth inning with Baltimore ahead 2-0 when he got Abreu to chase a 2-2 slider for a strikeout with the tying run aboard. The White Sox also stranded a pair in the first and eighth innings, leaving 10 men on base overall.

“Yeah it throws a wrench into things, but nothing we aren’t used to,” Davidson said. “That was kind of a crazy first inning. Kind of slowed things down.

“(Ynoa) threw pretty good, made pitches when he needed to and we really didn’t put anything together. But nothing out of the ordinary.”

Friday was anything but ordinary for Gonzalez, who pitched in Baltimore for the first time since he was released last March. Gonzalez spent the first four seasons of his career with the Orioles and went 39-33 with a 3.82 ERA in 101 games. He last pitched at Camden Yards on Sept. 30, 2015 and brought a 17-14 mark with a 3.94 ERA in 46 games (43 starts) in Baltimore into the contest.

Two hours before the game, Gonzalez was locked in as he sat on the bench in the White Sox dugout during batting practice. The right-hander also received a nice ovation from his former home crowd when he was announced before the bottom of the first inning.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu playing at a high level for White Sox after slow start]

Perhaps a case of nerves as well as an extra out courtesy of his defense’s inability to make a play led to a shaky first inning for Gonzalez. Shortstop Tim Anderson dove in front of Tyler Saladino, which resulted in a leadoff single for Seth Smith. Gonzalez then walked Chris Davis, allowed a single to Mark Trumbo and hit Jonathan Schoop with the bases loaded to force in a run.

But a fielder’s choice got Gonzalez out of the jam and he found a rhythm, retiring 11 of 12. Davis hit a solo homer off Gonzalez in the third to make it 2-0 but that was it. The right-hander retired the last six he faced and allowed six hits and two runs with a walk and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

“Coming back at Camden Yards, the fans were happy to see me,” Gonzalez said. “Emotion. A little too much amped up. Settled down after that.”

The White Sox defense never quite settled in. Cody Asche couldn’t handle a Davis grounder that went for a one-out single in the eighth inning off Dan Jennings. After Joey Rickard doubled in a run to make it 3-1, an error by Anderson — his seventh — led to another run. The defensive misplays gave the Orioles enough room to hold off Gonzalez and the White Sox.

“(Gonzalez) did a great job,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We gave him a few too many outs, actually. In the first, on the ground ball in the shift, kind of overplayed it a little bit. Other than that, he had to work through inning, giving up one run, working through all that traffic — really nice job. It was a couple of runs allowed, but not because he didn’t have a really good idea of what he wanted to do. I thought he was very effective. Again, you can’t give a club like that too many outs.”

Enter the mystery team: The Manny Machado sweepstakes is getting kind of mysterious

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USA TODAY

Enter the mystery team: The Manny Machado sweepstakes is getting kind of mysterious

You're more than welcome to believe or not believe in the idea of the "mystery team." But accounts of the reported existence of such mysterious teams are growing in the previously down-to-two Manny Machado sweepstakes.

We all thought this was down to the White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies — and maybe it still is — two teams with financial flexibility and visions of a bright future vying for the 26-year-old superstar, one of the two biggest names on this winter's free-agent marker and one of the best players in baseball.

The White Sox have made their offer. As for how rich it is and how long it is, it seems to depend on who you're talking to at any given moment. Our Chuck Garfien reported last week that it's fewer than eight years in length and worth "less than what's being reported." At the time, that latter descriptor seemed to mean less than the $250 million reported by ESPN's Jeff Passan. But then came a report from ESPN's Buster Olney that the offer was worth $175 million over seven years. Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, didn't like that one bit and released a formal statement calling the report "reckless."

And so now we have a new flurry of reports pointing to the involvement — perhaps heavy involvement — of a mysterious mystery team.

Let's start on Friday, when Machado's dad told Hector Gomez that in addition to the White Sox — who prior to this had the only reported offer on the table for Machado — the Phillies, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have all made offers.

That raised more than a few eyebrows, considering the Yankees appeared to be out of the derby after acquiring a pair of free-agent infielders in Troy Tuolwitzki and D.J. LeMahieu and were spending money elsewhere, notably on giving themselves the most terrifying bullpen in baseball. And this was the first mention anywhere of the Dodgers, the team Machado played for during the second half of last season, going all the way to the World Series. But he was only a Dodger because of an injury to shortstop Corey Seager. The Dodgers no longer need a replacement with Seager back, and they don't need a third baseman with Justin Turner at the hot corner. So where exactly would Machado play if he stayed in L.A.?

And then came the mystery team. According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, there exists a mystery team, and it's possible that team is the current high-bidder.

And Mr. Machado agrees.

SNY's Andy Martino had some more details, saying Machado is still having meetings and met with at least one mystery team in recent days. He said the mystery team is not the Yankees, though they have "kept an open line of communication" with Machado's people and aren't out. He's also eliminated the Atlanta Braves.

OK. So where does that leave us? The Machado sweepstakes could be bigger than we thought it was just a few days ago, with another team or more entering the bidding and perhaps able to top the White Sox reported offer — however close to $175 million or $200 million it might be.

The Phillies, as is the case with the White Sox, are still in pursuit of the other huge name on the free-agent market, Bryce Harper. The "spend stupid" Phillies could be trying to create a baseball version of the Miami Heat and lure both guys to the City of Brotherly Love. That would be an expensive proposition, of course. But the Phillies' pursuit of both guys could be what's throwing a wrench into this whole process.

But it's also likely that Lozano is looking for a bigger contract offer than the one(s) Machado currently has. After all, the expectations at the beginning of the offseason were that Machado and Harper could both receive record-breaking deals. There was talk of a $400 million contract or two. There were expectations of heavy competition for two of the best players in the game, both of whom are just 26 years old and firmly in their primes. That's not how it's played out, though, with just two or three teams in on both players. And while Harper reportedly turned down a $300 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals, if Machado's biggest offer is south of $200 million, that is shocking in comparison to those early expectations, regardless of how good it might be for the team that could get him to sign such an offer.

The White Sox seem to remain in good position to actually win this thing. They have made their offer, while it's unclear if other teams have or haven't. They have a strong pitch of Machado as the centerpiece playing alongside Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Luis Robert and others for the better part of the next decade. They can offer what no other team can in the opportunity to play alongside Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay, two of Machado's good friends from Miami and, in Alonso's case, his brother-in-law.

Machado supposedly prefers to play for the Yankees, though as Martino reports it's still unlikely there's a match there. Martino has also reported that Machado will take the biggest contract offer out there, and so the waiting could be because his agent thinks he can get a bigger one. Whether the biggest offer ends up coming from the White Sox, the Phillies, the Yankees or the mysterious bidder behind Door No. 4 (during the week, we had some thoughts on who that might be, by the way) remains to be seen.

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Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?