White Sox

White Sox: Jacob Turner starts spring in strong fashion

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White Sox: Jacob Turner starts spring in strong fashion

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A familiar face peered out from behind the catcher’s mask Friday as Jacob Turner took the mound for the first time since last June.

Alex Avila, who also caught Turner’s 2011 debut with the Detroit Tigers, was behind the plate for the White Sox pitcher’s first appearance of the spring. Turner made a strong first impression on his new team and also received a positive review from his old teammate after he struck out two in two scoreless innings. The White Sox got home runs from Brett Lawrie, Adam LaRoche and Jason Coats in a 5-5 tie against the Cleveland Indians.

“(Turner) threw the ball great,” Avila said. “Good life on his fastball, both sides and threw some really good curveballs and changeups there. We’ve been working on a cutter that’s he getting more confidence in. Threw that a few times and looked good.”

Turner joined the White Sox last October when they claimed him off waivers and later signed a $1.5 million contract in December. The former first-round pick has battled elbow and shoulder injuries for the past two seasons. Last year, health limited Turner to two minor-league appearances for the Cubs in June. He has found good health and thrown the ball well between.

[MORE: Chris Sale makes most of side session]

But until Friday, Turner hadn’t been back on the mound.

“I felt like the game could have started at 10 o’clock when I got here today,” he said.

Aside from a second-inning walk, it didn’t show. The outing is a continuation of a strong spring for Turner, pitching coach Don Cooper said. Turner has felt healthy enough to even begin working on a cut-fastball.

“The last sideline he had, we challenged him and he passed it all,” Cooper said. “He did very very well on the sideline. He was very, very good and I don’t say that often. We’re hoping he can carry it. This kid has had some rough breaks and he seems to be past that.”

Turner hit 94 mph on the radar gun and also effectively used his curveball. He said he was a little off in the second inning when he struck out Zach Walters to strand runners on the corners.

But overall, Turner felt good.

It didn’t hurt to have Avila catching him, either.

“I haven’t done it in a while so there’s definitely probably more excitement than usual but it’s just fun to be out there competing again,” Turner said. “I’ve had spring training starts with other organizations in the past where I’ve thrown to a catcher and felt like I’ve met him that same day. It was nice to have (Avila) back there. He caught my major league debut so I’m definitely familiar.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Turner made six starts for the Tigers before they traded him and Rob Brantly to the Miami Marlins in 2012 in exchange for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. He stayed with the Marlins until he was designated for assignment and the Cubs acquired him on Aug. 8, 2014.

Avila can see a little difference in Turner, 24, this spring. He hopes the right-hander continues to throw as he has.

“He always had the great stuff and now I think he feels confident about himself that he could command his pitches,” Avila said. “He has been looking good all spring.

“He pitched well and it was nice to see. It was nice to catch him, too.”

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.