White Sox

White Sox: Jose Abreu wants to improve English, leadership skills

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White Sox: Jose Abreu wants to improve English, leadership skills

Jose Abreu wants to become more of a leader and knows he must cross the language barrier to do so.

While he isn’t sure what steps he’ll take to improve his English, the White Sox slugger identified it as a top priority of the offseason. Many around the White Sox already consider Abreu to be a leader by example as his tireless work ethic is a model they’d like for all players to emulate. But Abreu -- who also has plans to get married on Nov. 28 -- would like to add his voice into the clubhouse equation and thinks it only could benefit the team.

“I want to be a leader and I know that for that, I have to learn the language,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “And that’s my focus for this offseason, it’s one of the things that I have on my list. I know if I can learn a little bit more of the language I can express myself in a better way with my teammates and my coaches. It’s going to help our relationship. It is good, but I think it could be much better. That’s the way I think I can express my leadership. I’m not just to be a leader as an example. I’ll try to say something.”

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From the moment he joined the White Sox, Abreu has stated he’d like to improve his English. While he has picked up some phrases, he still hasn’t grasped it the way he’d like. Asked how he intends to accomplish his goal, Abreu said it’s a work in progress but reiterated its importance.

“I don’t know how, I just know that I have to do something,” Abreu said.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura approves of Abreu’s message. He loves the example Abreu sets for other players and believes he leads in that fashion. But he always has noted how grasping English would be the final step for Abreu to become a full-fledged leader.

[MORE: Examining how top prospects did in minor leagues for White Sox in 2015]

“It’s a good thing to hear because we know he operates,” Ventura said. “We know how he comes every day and how he prepares and how he plays the game. Any time a guy like thatwants to step up and lead up, we’re happy to hear that.”

Abreu also sounds as if he’d concede to play more games as the team’s designated hitter in the future if it benefits the team. This season, Abreu has appeared in 111 games at first base. He thanked Adam LaRoche for his help on the defensive side and reiterated his preference to play first base before he spoke about a possible arrangement in 2016.

“Looking forward to next season we have to do whatever we have to do to help this team to win,” Abreu said. “It doesn’t matter if there is something that, in the moment, we don’t like it. If you want to win, you have to do whatever the team needs you to do to win games.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.