White Sox

White Sox go from 'All In' to 'Don't Care'

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White Sox go from 'All In' to 'Don't Care'

GLENDALE, Ariz -- Position players arent expected to report to White Sox spring training until Tuesday, but one-by-one the three hitters who struggled the most in 2011 all coincidentally arrived at Camelback Ranch on Saturday -- three days ahead of time.

Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham.

Those are signs to me that guys are hungry to come back and play well, said manager Robin Ventura. Theyre willing to do that for the team and thats important in that theyre showing everybody else on the team that theyre already in. Theyre willing to come in and work, and do whatevers necessary.

Coming off his nightmare season of 2011 in which he batted .159 with 177 strikeouts, Dunn showed up Saturday looking to put it all behind him. He took batting practice in the off-season for the first time in his career, and recently met with new hitting coach Jeff Manto in Houston to help prepare him for the season.

My main goal is to be ready for Opening Day, and thats what Ill do, Dunn said matter-of-factly.

The White Sox slugger believes hell have a comeback season. So does his new manager.

Hes had success in the past, and thats what Im counting on, Ventura said. Ive seen him play. Ive seen him do well. I want him to come and be prepared and do that. He has a clean slate.

The same goes for Beckham, billed as a future star with the White Sox after his impressive rookie season in 2009. Unfortunately, his hitting woes deepened last season, batting .230 with 111 strikeouts. Gordon came to Glendale with a brand new mind-set, which could end up becoming the unofficial slogan for the 2012 White Sox.

Dont care. Dont care. Honey badger. Were all going to be honey badgers. Were not going to care at all this year, said Beckham, referencing the viral YouTube video about the fearless predator.

Beckham was joking -- sort of.

He plans on making White Sox honey badger t-shirts for his teammates, anything to help lighten the load after they carried -- and failed to meet -- such high expectations last year.

I think sometimes I take it way too seriously, Beckham said. I want to do so well for this team and for the fans, for myself that sometimes it gets too much of me. Be a little more carefree this year. Not care so much.

That calmer attitude will likely work for Beckham. What about Dunn?

Thats probably not my problem. I have enough fun for at least 23 of us sitting here, Dunn said with a smile. Ill still be myself.

No one is exactly sure which Alex Rios will wear a White Sox uniform this season. His Jekyll and Hyde stint so far has been exciting and dumbfounding, and everything in between. After having his best major league season in 2010 in which he batted .284 with 21 homers, 88 RBIs, and 34 stolen bases, Rios slumped big-time in 2011, hitting just .227 with 13 homers, 44 RBIs, and 11 steals.

I want to start over and have a very productive and helpful year. Thats what Im looking for, Rios said. I dont have any doubts in my skills. I know that I can produce. Its just a matter of staying positive, not cloud my mind with lots of things, like mechanics and all the things I was worried about last year. Its just see the ball, hit the ball. Thats what Im going to try to accomplish this year.

What position Rios plays in the outfield is a mystery. He prefers center and right, but those spots might belong to Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo.

Well see what happens, Rios said.

Ventura said Saturday that players will have to be flexible.

Guys will just have to be open to moving around and do whats best for the team.

Right now the team is walking into camp with a peaceful, easy feeling. Last year they were All-In. This year, with a more surfer mentality settling in, maybe the new slogan should be this:

Its all good.

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

Chuck Garfien and Steve Stone take a look back at Mark Buehrle's perfect game. How did Buehrle do it? How did Dewayne Wise make that catch?

Plus, Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski talk about how Buehrle actually told Pierzynski before taking that field that day that he would throw a perfect game and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Yoan Moncada cleans up for White Sox: 'I think we found our No. 4 hitter'

Yoan Moncada cleans up for White Sox: 'I think we found our No. 4 hitter'

Though Jose Abreu and James McCann represented the team at the All-Star Game earlier this month, Yoan Moncada holds the title of the White Sox best hitter through the first 97 games of the 2019 season.

The guy who struck out 217 times during his first full season in the majors last year has been a completely different hitter this time around. Instead of looking lost at the plate, he’s the guy White Sox fans want to see at the plate in run-producing situations. He hasn’t spent much time in one of those traditional run-producing spots in the batting order, but manager Rick Renteria inserted Moncada into the cleanup spot Monday night.

And Moncada cleaned up, all right.

“I think we found our No. 4 hitter,” starting pitcher Ivan Nova said after he went the distance in a 9-1 waxing of the Miami Marlins. “A lot of times you get surprised. While he was hitting second, you're thinking and knowing, the type of hitter that he is — you're only thinking as a player, they have another way to think. But today, I think it was first time hit in fourth, and he showed.”

Moncada went 2-for-4 with the game’s biggest blow, a three-run homer in the fifth inning that blew things wide open. He drove in four runs on the night, and he flashed a potential glimpse of the future of this future-focused franchise.

Combining with Abreu, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and three runs scored, Moncada showed what the middle of the order might look like for this team when rebuilding finally transitions to contending. That could come as soon as next year, and when you throw the currently injured Eloy Jimenez into that group, the White Sox could boast a fearsome 3-4-5 as soon as later this season.

“If someone is happy that we finally found a cleanup hitter, it’s me,” Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “Nothing that he does surprises me because I know all the talent he has. I know that he still can do more. He has been working hard. He’s a great baseball player with a lot of talent and I still think he can do more.

“What he did today is not a surprise for me. I still know he’s a great player and I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season this year. He’s going to get better.”

Moncada has been sensational all season long, proving why the White Sox weren’t at all worried during his struggles in 2018. He owns a .304/.362/.530 slash line through these first 97 games, and his three-run blast Monday night gave him a new career high in that category after he smacked 17 a year ago. He’s six RBIs away from setting a new career high there, too. And even though he made a fielding error Monday that only briefly delayed Nova finishing off his complete-game effort, Moncada has been generally excellent at third base in his first season at that position as a big leaguer.

But putting Moncada in a run-producing spot in the order is a new wrinkle for Renteria this season. Coming into Monday’s game, Moncada had spent 63 games as the team’s No. 2 hitter and just 26 everywhere else. According to the skipper, Moncada is good enough to hit anywhere, and that’s certainly true. His eventual everyday spot in the lineup might have more to do with the hitters around him than simply what he can do by himself.

But if Moncada keeps up the kind of offensive production he’s churned out this season, maybe sticking him right in the thick of the order is what's best for the White Sox — even if those lineups of the future include big bats like those swung by Abreu, Jimenez, Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn.

“For me, it's an advantage to hit in the cleanup spot having (Abreu) ahead of me,” Moncada said through Russo. “That way, you can see how the pitchers are attacking him, and you have a better idea, in those situations when you need to produce, how the pitchers are doing it. Even though he's a right-handed hitter and I hit from both sides of the plate, it's good. It's something that gives you a better idea of how the pitchers are doing, how their pitches are working.”

“He had a nice game,” Renteria said. “He can hit anywhere in the middle and the top of the order. I wish I could say I'm really a genius, but I'm not. He's got that talent. He's able to take advantage of it and today he had a nice day. He made everybody look good.”

It would make sense to see Moncada batting fourth again as this first homestand of the second half and the 2019 season roll on, but that’s up to Renteria, who has his reasons for every permutation to his lineups.

Of course, if Abreu gets ahold of Renteria's lineup card and starts writing out the batting orders, we’ll know where Moncada will be slotted.

“If I would have that decision,” Abreu said, “I would put him in the cleanup spot for the rest of the season.”

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