White Sox

White Sox hopeful Adam LaRoche can end on high note

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White Sox hopeful Adam LaRoche can end on high note

SEATTLE -- There are no easy solutions nor is there a quick fix.

Adam LaRoche will earn $13 million in 2016, which means the White Sox won’t designate him for assignment and an offseason trade seems unlikely.

LaRoche is here and for that reason he and the White Sox are caught in a balancing act over the final quarter of the season.

Even though they’ve slipped again in the American League wild-card standings and face nearly impossible odds, manager Robin Ventura has maintained a “focus on winning tonight” attitude that has resulted in LaRoche not playing. At the same time, the White Sox are determined to get LaRoche back on track -- even if it’s mostly with 2016 in mind. So while they intend to give younger players at-bats over the final 43 games, the White Sox know it would behoove them to also help LaRoche -- who has a .210/.298/.345 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 420 plate appearances -- figure this out.

“Given he’s part of what we have going on next year you do want to see him end on a high note and going into the offseason have some confidence and be on the upswing,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “There’s still time for that to happen. He (was) in there (Thursday), but for the last couple days he wasn’t because Robin felt it wasn’t the right matchup. He knows that’s totally in his discretion to set it up the way he sees fit.”

[SHOP: Buy an Adam LaRoche jersey]

The White Sox saw LaRoche as a good fit for the middle of the their lineup when they signed him to a two-year, $25-million deal last November. So far LaRoche has struggled, whether it’s his new role as a designated hitter or facing an entirely new catalogue of pitchers in the AL.

Ventura has done a good bit of juggling, especially over the last month, sitting LaRoche for several days at a time. While LaRoche’s bat speed and swing aren’t seen as an issue, his plate discipline has been -- he’s struck out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances this season.

That has left Ventura to constantly shake up the lineup. Earlier this week, LaRoche -- who said Wednesday he would have benched himself months ago -- didn’t start in three straight games and was relegated to pinch-hitting duty.

“You keep moving things around and see what happens,” Ventura said.

Several times already the White Sox have given LaRoche a few days to work out the kinks in the batting cage. Last month in Boston, LaRoche said he began to feel a little bit better as he went to a wider base in his stance. But that didn’t take.

[MORE: White Sox interested in moving arms this offseason?]

He received a few more days off earlier this month and continued to experiment.

Though he grounded into a game-ending double play on Wednesday, LaRoche followed with one of his best games in months onThursday and is hopeful he’s had a breakthrough. Not only did LaRoche have just his second multi-hit game since July 8, including a booming two-run homer to right center, he also felt like he was seeing pitches better.

The White Sox would love for LaRoche to build off Thursday’s effort. Not only would it help their extremely limited chances this season, but a rebound from LaRoche could do wonders for the veteran’s second season with the White Sox.

“I felt better at the plate,” LaRoche said Thursday. “It has been a while. So that was good.

“I got some borderline pitches that I saw good. Seems like the majority of this year, I’ve been chasing a lot of those pitches that are just off. It was better.”

“It would be nice to build off of that. I’ve had some of these days where I’ve felt really good and come back out and not have it for a few days. So it’s a positive to see some pitches better. I wasn’t chasing today.”

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.