White Sox

White Sox hope Mike Olt can fill possible infield vacancy in 2016

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White Sox hope Mike Olt can fill possible infield vacancy in 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The White Sox have begun the search to fill one of two possible vacancies on the left side of the infield for 2016 when they claimed Mike Olt off waivers.

The former Cubs third baseman was claimed on Saturday and is expected to join the White Sox soon, though a specific arrival hasn’t been determined. Olt, 27, has a .158/.245/.333 slash line with 13 home runs and 119 strikeouts in 314 major league plate appearances, including 16 with the Cubs this season. The White Sox have been happy with the defense provided by rookie Tyler Saladino but he could slide to shortstop in 2016 if Alexei Ramirez becomes a free agent.

“(Olt is a) third baseman, power bat,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “And I think we’ve been kind of searching for that and we are going to see how it goes. I think we are fairly intrigued by having him here and getting him going. Hopefully he can make it by this weekend or the start of next week.”

In a previous attempt to fill their void at third, the White Sox acquired Matt Davidson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Addison Reed in December 2013. Davidson has hit 43 homers at Triple-A Charlotte the past two seasons but he also has struck out 351 times, including 187 this season.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Beyond that, the White Sox have Nick Delmonico (.695 OPS at Double-A) and Trey Michalczewski (.735 OPS at Single-A with 34 doubles).

To fill next season’s void, the White Sox could attempt to acquire a third baseman in an offseason trade or sign someone from a relatively thin free agents class that includes Juan Uribe, David Freese and Mike Aviles.

But for now Olt is expected to get a look over the team’s final 28 games. Ventura hopes a change of scenery might spark Olt.

“There was a fit there,” Ventura said. “It’s something about getting him in here and seeing what can happen.”

The Cubs acquired Olt as part of a package from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Matt Garza in July 2013. Olt hit .160/.248/.356 with 12 homers but also struck out 100 times in 258 plate appearances in 2014. The Cubs designated him for assignment on Monday after they acquired Austin Jackson from Seattle.

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.”

On this day in 2000, Mark Buehrle made his White Sox debut

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AP

On this day in 2000, Mark Buehrle made his White Sox debut

On this day 18 years ago, former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle made is MLB debut.

NBC Sports Chicago’s stats guru Chris Kamka tweeted out Buehrle’s debut.

Buehrle was just 21 years old when he got called up to the big leagues, and spent 12 seasons with the Sox. He also had stints with the Marlins and Blue Jays.

Buehrle was never an overpowering pitcher with his fastball in the high 80’s. He was also known for working quickly on the mound to keep hitters off balance.

That paid big dividends for the Sox hurler, as he’s known for tossing a no-hitter against the Rangers in 2007 and MLB’s 18th perfect game against the Rays in 2009, with both of those games coming at then U.S Cellular Field.

A big highlight from the perfect game, a lot will never forget is former Sox outfielder Dwyane Wise saving Buehrle’s perfect game with a ridiculous juggling catch in center field. Ever since then, “The Catch” has been engraved on the outfield wall in left center.

Besides the no-hitter and perfect game, Buehrle knew how to field his position. Eight years ago against the Indians on Opening Day, Buehrle kicked a ground ball off his foot into foul territory and to record the out, he flipped the ball between his legs to first basemen Paul Konerko who barehanded it and got the out.

Let’s just say that play was at the top for that season.

But, as for eating up innings, Buehrle did not shy away from showing his durability.

After his rookie season, Buehrle threw over 200 innings in 14 consecutive seasons. In his tenure with the Blue Jays, he was just an inning and a third away from becoming the fifth pitcher in MLB history to record over 200 innings pitched in 15 straight seasons.

In his 16 years in the MLB, Buehrle finished with 214 wins and 160 losses, with a 3.81 ERA in 518 games and 493 starts over 3,000 innings. He won the 2005 World Series with the Sox and he also won the Cy young that year.

Buehrle appeared in five All-Star games, and he won four gold gloves, along with two pitcher of the month awards.

2005 was a good year to say the least for Buehrle. He finished the year at 16-8 with a 3.12 ERA which arguably could’ve been his best season in a Sox uniform.

His number 56 was retired by the Sox last season, becoming the 12th player in Sox history to have their jersey retired.

What a career it was for number 56.