White Sox

White Sox looking at outfield options with Charlie Tilson beginning 2017 on disabled list

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USA TODAY

White Sox looking at outfield options with Charlie Tilson beginning 2017 on disabled list

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Charlie Tilson will begin the 2017 season on the disabled list, so the White Sox will have to look elsewhere to find their Opening Day center fielder. 

The presumed frontrunner to be the White Sox Opening Day center fielder, Tilson hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game after being shut down Feb. 19, when an MRI revealed a stress reaction in his right foot. The problem wasn't initially thought to be serious.

But Tilson will be shut down for a minimum of three weeks and is in a boot after a follow-up MRI Monday revealed a fair amount of swelling in his foot. The MRI did not reveal a fracture, so the original diagnosis of a stress reaction remains the same.

It's a difficult setback for the 24-year-old New Trier alum, who suffered a season-ending torn hamstring shortly after collecting his first career hit in his major league debut last August. 

The White Sox have three players in camp who would be in the mix to start in center field April 3 against the Detroit Tigers: Peter Bourjos, Adam Engel and Jacob May. 

Bourjos was a non-roster invitee to White Sox camp after spending the last seven seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. The 29-year-old native of Park Ridge, Ill., hit .251/.292/.389 in 383 plate appearances with the Phillies last year and has posted on-base percentages below .300 in each of the last three seasons. 

But Bourjos has hit well this spring, collecting two more hits Monday against the Cleveland Indians to bring him to 10 hits in 27 at-bats (though he has yet to draw a walk). The White Sox have two spots open on their 40-man roster that could go to Bourjos and fellow non-roster invitee Geovany Soto.

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May has hit well this spring, but hasn't been able to stay healthy as he's worked his way through the White Sox farm system. The nephew of former White Sox outfielder Carlos May appeared in 83 games with Triple-A Charlotte in 2016 with a .266/.309/.352 slash line. 

Bourjos has rated as an above-average defender in his career (+36 DRS, +49 UZR) while Engel and May have shown good range and instincts in the outfield this spring (and both have made highlight-reel catches in the last week). 

"We always have to be mindful of different options," manager Rick Renteria said Monday. "The reality is we've got all three of those young men beyond Tilly. They're working very hard. They're doing very well in the outfield. All of them are contributing to our part of the spring in terms of playing different positions, center field in specific."

Rewatching 2005 World Series Game 1

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USA Today

Rewatching 2005 World Series Game 1

14 years ago today the White Sox hosted the Astros in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series.

Watching it was a surreal experience. When the game happened, there was no Baseball Reference Play Index, no Twitter and I don’t even think I had any idea who Chuck Garfien was. I was a 25-year-old figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I was on a path to become a pharmacist, working 40-hour weeks at Walgreens while going to school for pre-pharmacy courses. But I was a lifelong White Sox fan. Maybe 20 times a year, I’d take the train to the ballpark, usually just me with a backpack. I’d take a program, media guide, a note pad to scribble down notes, and a plastic snap case full of White Sox baseball cards, in case a player popped up in the dugout before the game for an autograph opportunity.

I remember watching Game 1 with my dad, who got me hooked on this game and this team. My heart was pounding throughout the game; back when I was just a fan there was a sense of nervousness that eventually went away as watching games became a job-related task. I miss that nervousness.

But anyway, I figured I’d watch Game 1 all the way through for the first time since I was on the couch at my parents’ house that October night in 2005. Along the way, I recorded five key retrospective observations.

So here we go…

José Contreras vs Roger Clemens!

Entering the 2005 World Series, Roger Clemens had 341 career regular season wins, whereas José Contreras (35), Jon Garland (64), Mark Buehrle (85) and Freddy García (99) had a combined total of 283.

In fact, at 43 years (and 79 days) of age Clemens was the oldest starting pitcher to face the White Sox since… Nolan Ryan (46 years, 185 days) — and in the Robin Ventura Game, no less — on August 4, 1993!

As for Contreras, what a run he had! The broadcast at one point cut to Chris Myers, who told a story of Humberto, Jose’s older brother, who rode by horseback in Cuba to a friend’s shack in order to listen to the game on radio (Humberto wasn’t able to get the broadcast on his own radio). It’s easy to lose sight of the sacrifices that players make for a better life.

The big Cuban righthander was in the middle of a 24-start regular season stretch (over 2005-06) where he went 17-0 with a 2.92 ERA. That incredible streak started on August 21 – which was better known as the day the Sox hit 4 home runs in an inning off Randy Johnson – and ended after the 2006 All-Star Break. And here was José Contreras as the 2005 World Series Game 1 starter. Amazing. The movement on his forkball was NASTY!

One more thing about Clemens:

Roger Clemens faced the 2005 White Sox staff a LOT. Here are those numbers (with postseason)

Name PA H-AB BA HR
GM Kenny Williams 7 1-6 .167 0
Manager Ozzie Guillen 63 15-62 .242 0
Bench Coach Harold Baines 126 33-109 .303 2
1B Coach Tim Raines 53 10-47 .213 0
3B Coach Joey Cora 48 9-38 .237 0
Hitting Coach Greg Walker 42 7-37 .189 1
Total 339 75-229 .251 3

Familiar Names

In the 2005 ALCS, the White Sox faced Vladimir Guerrero’s Angels, then in the 2005 World Series they faced Craig Biggio’s Astros. A pair of Hall of Famers whose kids, Vlad Jr. and Cavan, currently play for the Blue Jays.

One thing about this series that has always stuck out to me is this: you had Jeff Bagwell playing his final career games — a non-factor, going 1-for-8 with 2 HBP (both in Game 1) during the World Series. Then you had Frank Thomas, who didn’t get a chance to play due to injury. Both players were born on the same day – May 27, 1968 – and both won MVP in 1994. And both would never again play for these teams after the Series.

Jermaine Dye

I miss Jermaine Dye. Such a good, solid performer. His Game 1 home run was the first by a White Sox player in the World Series since Ted Kluszewski in Game 6 of the 1959 Fall Classic. My favorite nugget on Dye was the improbable fact that he was born on the exact same day – January 28, 1974 – as the player he replaced as White Sox right fielder, Magglio Ordoñez. Dye went on to win 2005 World Series MVP, then he and Paul Konerko hit their 300th career home runs back-to-back on April 13, 2009. His career, though, ended abruptly after that 2009 season.

Dye hit 27 home runs in his final MLB campaign, a total only six other players in MLB history can match. David Ortiz (38 in 2016), Dave Kingman (35 in 1986), Mike Napoli (29 in 2017), Mark McGwire (29 in 2001), Ted Williams (29 in 1960) and Barry Bonds (28 in 2007). He never got another chance after 2009, and that’s a shame.

The Smallball Myth

Often, you’ll hear about the fact that the 2005 White Sox won because they played “smallball.” Is that true? Not really. That’s one of those myths that persist because that brand of baseball is more aesthetically pleasing despite the fact that the numbers say it’s mostly inefficient. Look at this strange list:

Teams to hit 200+ home runs and lead their league in sacrifice bunts (MLB history)
Year Team HR Sac Bunts
1999 Cleveland Indians 209 54
2001 Chicago White Sox 214 63
2004 Chicago White Sox 242 58
2005 Chicago White Sox 200 53
2019 Cleveland Indians 223 40
2019 Los Angeles Dodgers 279 55

Through the 2005 World Series, the White Sox had three of the four such seasons in MLB history, which is very odd. Yes, they led the AL in sacrifice bunts, but they also hit 200 home runs. Actually, if you were to single out one reason the White Sox were winners in 2005… it’s pitching!

Year Runs/Game HR Starter ERA Reliever ERA
2004 5.34 242 5.17 4.31
2005 4.57 200 3.75 3.23
2006 5.36 236 4.65 4.53

They scored considerably more the year before and after, but that pitching was unbelievable in 2005. Three key starters – Contreras, Buehrle and Garland - had career years, as did three key relievers: Dustin Hermanson, Neal Cotts and Cliff Politte.

The White Sox took Game 1 by a 5-3 score, but the World Series was only getting warmed up. The White Sox completed a four-game sweep with a little bit of everything along the way – a grand slam, a walkoff home run, a 14th inning home run, a save by Mark Buehrle... you name it, you got it. What an amazing finish to an improbable year.

Kenny Williams kept his foot on the gas for 2006. Jim Thome (who hit 42 home runs in his White Sox debut) and workhorse starter Javier Vázquez were added to the mix, but the pitchers who had career years during the World Series run simply couldn’t duplicate their success.

And the South Side waits for its next championship parade.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Our White Sox offseason predictions

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USA Today

White Sox Talk Podcast: Our White Sox offseason predictions

Who will the White Sox sign this winter? What players will they acquire?

Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka give their predictions. We all hope Kamka's predictions come true (7:10). Vinnie has a World Series MVP on his mind (18:00). Chuck gives his predictions and Guff isn't happy about them (33:00). They all include their one bold prediction and more.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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