White Sox

White Sox mourn death of Yankees icon Yogi Berra

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White Sox mourn death of Yankees icon Yogi Berra

DETROIT -- David Robertson had hoped to visit with Yogi Berra this weekend during a four-game visit to Yankee Stadium.

Instead, the White Sox closer will be on hand to mourn Berra’s passing after the Yankees legend died at age 90 on Tuesday. Robertson said he received a phone call learning of Berra’s death early Wednesday morning. Robertson, who played his first six seasons in New York, said Berra was a constant presence in the clubhouse.

“He’s one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet, one of the nicest, most respectful,” Robertson said. “He was exactly what the Yankees as an organization wanted their players to be like. “You can’t say enough about him, he’s just going to be missed.”

Robin Ventura played two seasons in New York and remembers how Berra was the genuine article not to mention an impressive ballplayer. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, Berra won 10 World Series rings, was a 15-time All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player. He also led the Yankees and New York Mets to the World Series as a manager. But it’s how Berra interacted with people that will stick with Ventura.

[REMEMBERING YOGI: A man greater than his legend]

“As soon as you start thinking about him, you smile,” Ventura said. “Just getting to talk to him was always fun. He lit up a room when he came in there, would walk around and talk to everybody. Just a beautiful person all the way around. His numbers are incredible when you really look at him. But his presence and how he dealt with people was really the biggest thing. He made a lot of people smile.

“He enjoyed people. He enjoyed having fun and laughing as well. He wasn’t trying to be that way. That was just what came out. Truly an icon of our game.”

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper got the chance to pitch for Berra in one of his final games as the Yankees manager. A native of New York, Cooper was excited to pitch for one of the franchise’s icons and hoped it meant a new lease on life for his career. Two days later (April 29, 1985), the Yankees fired Berra and rehired Billy Martin.

“He brought me in the game in the 10th inning in Chicago and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s giving me a chance,’ ” Cooper said. “I never really thought I had the opportunity I was dreaming about. I thought maybe it happened.

“At the end of that series, he got fired. … Just a wonderful man. Baseball’s loss and friends, family. It’s just a loss, just sad.”

“I haven’t heard ever one word from anybody that was derogatory toward him. He was loved by everyone.”

[REMEMBERING YOGI: Some of the best Yogi-isms]

Said Robertson: “He was never trying to put on a show. That was just Yogi. He was a funny guy who knew how to play the game the right way and had success doing it. I think he ended up having 10 rings. I know he’d always joke about that saying to Derek (Jeter) -- ‘How many do you have? We’ll I’ve got 10.’ He wasn’t being cocky about it. He was just letting you know ‘I was good.’

“He was a true legend of the game and he’s going to be missed.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.