White Sox

White Sox great Jack McDowell on Chris Sale: 'He's coming into his own'

White Sox great Jack McDowell on Chris Sale: 'He's coming into his own'

Jack McDowell is impressed with the way Chris Sale has continued to develop over the course of his career.

The last White Sox pitcher to win a Cy Young Award appreciates how Sale -- who Thursday joined Ed Cicotte as the only pitchers in franchise history to win their first nine starts -- has attacked the strike zone this season.

McDowell, who won the award in 1993 when he went 22-8 with a 3.37 ERA, said Friday he sees how Sale has tried to be more efficient and thinks it has taken him to a new level. The pitcher formerly known as “Black Jack” is at U.S. Cellular for White Sox homecoming weekend along with Tim Raines, Lance Johnson and Roberto Hernandez.

“He’s coming into his own,” McDowell said. “He’s pounding the strike zone. He’s going after guys. I’ve told guys forever -- hitters don’t know what to do when you do that. When you don’t pitch so much and try to get them to do things and say, ‘Here’s my stuff, here it is and I’m going to throw it over the plate.’ And they go, ‘Ugh.’ ”

A first-round draft pick in 1987, McDowell pitched in parts of seven seasons for the White Sox. He amassed a 91-58 record with a 3.50 ERA in 191 starts.

McDowell spent the past two seasons as a manager in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system. A tall, skinny pitcher as well, McDowell, who also finished in second place on the 1992 Cy ballot, said it was three years ago in spring training when Sale specifically asked about him the proposition of adding weight to his frame.

“I went through that, being a 6-5, 175-pounder out of college,” McDowell said. “We talked about it and I said, ‘Do you feel good?’ He said he feels good. ‘Do you feel strong? Do you feel normal? Then don’t beat it up. It’s either going to happen or it’s not.’ ”

McDowell thinks the direction Sale is headed is the correct one. The results would seem to back that assertion as Sale already has three complete games, one shy of his career total. Even though Sale has better stuff than he did, McDowell has always believed the pitcher would beat the thrower.

“Just watching him this year, it’s not about the strikeout, it’s about pounding the zone and putting the pressure on the hitters,” McDowell said.

“I didn’t have the kind of putaway stuff that Chris does at all. My whole deal was to go after guys and make them put the ball in play.

“If you were a guy with lesser stuff than a Chris Sale and you’ve got that approach, you’re going to have more success than going the other way. Trust me.”

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

The White Sox rebuilding puzzle is getting closer to completion.

Zack Collins is reportedly en route to the major leagues, according to a report from Miami talk-show host Andy Slater. That adds another one of the White Sox highly rated prospects to the growing list of them at the big league level as the franchise’s contention window looks set to open relatively soon.

Collins was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, selected with the No. 10 pick that year out of the University of Miami. Currently ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the farm system, he’s always been praised for his offensive abilities. Last season at Double-A Birmingham, he finished the year with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers, also winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

In 48 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Collins owns a .258/.382/.497 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 35 walks.

Collins has been lauded as a big bat, but there have been questions about other parts of his game as he’s risen through the system. From the day he was drafted, there were questions about his defensive ability, leading to speculation that he might one day end up at a position besides catcher. He’s also racked up the strikeouts in the minors, with 396 of them in 322 games over his four minor league seasons.

But the White Sox haven’t wavered in their confidence that Collins can be a big league catcher, and it looks like that’s the position he’ll fill should the White Sox call him up before the start of next week’s Crosstown series with the Cubs. Welington Castillo was removed from Sunday’s loss to the New York Yankees with back tightness. The team said Castillo will be reevaluated on Monday. With this report of Collins’ promotion, it looks like Castillo could be headed to the injured list.

Another top prospect reaching the majors adds another tangible example of rebuilding progress. Fans have been clamoring for the promotions of Dylan Cease and Luis Robert all season long, and while Collins might be a little further down in the rankings than those two, this should still please fans who, even in a season filled with positives, want to see a more rapid advancement toward the rebuild’s ultimate goal.

Collins will perhaps benefit from a lack of pressure, what with James McCann in the midst of a potentially All-Star season as the White Sox primary catcher. The White Sox could perhaps continue to lean on McCann, allowing Collins to ease into the major leagues.

But just like Michael Kopech last August and Eloy Jimenez in March, Collins’ mere arrival is a step forward in this process, one that should please fans immensely.

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Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues


Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

Yoan Moncada's battle with his back issues might not be as over as we thought.

The third baseman made his return to the White Sox starting lineup Sunday following a four-game layoff due to a mild back strain. But his return didn't last long. After a fourth-inning strikeout in his second plate appearance of the 10-3 loss to the visiting New York Yankees, Moncada was removed from the game with what the team announced as upper back tightness.

Moncada is described as day to day. The White Sox have an off day Monday ahead of the start of a two-game Crosstown series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

"He's doing good. I think I'm not the only one who noticed his grimace in the swing. It made no sense to continue to expose him to that," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "All indications are he should be ready to go on Tuesday.

"Didn't seem to put him in any predicament. Hopefully it didn't set him back. All indications are that hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."

Moncada was removed from Monday's game against the Washington Nationals with what was initially described as back spasms. Renteria updated the verbiage to a back strain in the following days. Moncada missed Tuesday's game against the Nationals, went through a Wednesday off day and then missed the first three games of the four-game weekend set with the Yankees. His return lasted all of four innings Sunday before he was taken out again.

"Just watching the swing, watching the finish, which is what I was concerned with, getting through the ball. He's ready to get through the ball, it's just the finish. He's feeling a little something there," Renteria said. "You can't replicate it in any drill work. We've tried to do it. Everything he did was good. All the work he did was good.

"Everything we tried to do to replicate it, it wasn't existent until you get into the game, then you know. That's why I think it was a good — I don't know if you want to call it a test, but it was a test. We wanted to see where he was at. Didn't make any sense to continue to push him. Get him ready and calm it down and get him ready for the series against the North Siders."

Moncada wasn't the only White Sox hitter removed from Sunday's game. Welington Castillo, who was the designated hitter, was taken out with what the team announced as lower back tightness. Renteria confirmed after the game that Castillo's injury came on his swing in the second inning, a line drive off the center-field wall that ended up as only a single. Castillo will be reevaluated during the off day Monday.

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