White Sox

White Sox must get back on track after wild week

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White Sox must get back on track after wild week

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The team has already filed the paperwork, but how much Adam LaRoche’s retirement will affect the White Sox remains to be seen.

Club officials finalized LaRoche’s retirement on Friday afternoon as the saga surrounding the presence of his son, Drake, in the clubhouse added several more contentious chapters.

All-Star pitcher Chris Sale went off on executive vice president Kenny Williams, LaRoche said in a statement he retired because of interactions with Williams and manager Robin Ventura said he’d work to get back on track a clubhouse that closer David Robertson describes as dicey.

If that weren’t enough, Williams released a statement to politely disagree with his ace’s thoughts while chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued another instructing members of the organization to no longer discuss the issue and instead worry about baseball.

So, yeah, you could say things have gotten interesting around what previously has been a focused and upbeat White Sox camp.

“It’s a story,” Robertson said. “It has turned into one. There is a lot going on here.

“We’ll see. It’s too early to tell right now. People are still feeling hot and heavy about this situation.”

[MORE: Chris Sale - White Sox ‘got bold-faced lied to’ on Adam LaRoche situation]

Friday was the capper to what has proven to be a volatile week at Camelback Ranch.

Williams had the final of several discussions with LaRoche on Sunday, which prompted the veteran to stay away home Monday.

LaRoche addressed the team and retired Tuesday morning. After a heated discussion between Sale and Williams, players protested by not taking the field for morning stretch. They also reportedly considered a boycott of Tuesday’s game -- “it was a very passionate couple of minutes,” Ventura said without confirming reports.

On Wednesday, word leaked that LaRoche’s “#FamilyFirst” Tweet regarded his son and how Williams asked for a reduction in the youngster’s schedule. Williams said he didn’t ban Drake LaRoche outright, but asked for a reduced presence at home and on the road.

LaRoche argued that point in a statement he issued Friday to explain his decision. Not only did he suggest he has an agreement in place with the White Sox about having his son around, LaRoche said Williams requested a “significant reduction” before he banned the 14-year-old altogether.

“Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all,” LaRoche said.

Not even 24 hours away from the facility -- the team didn’t play Thursday -- could temper the situation as evidenced by Sale’s 14-minute media session aimed at Williams’ involvement.

“It’s a sticky situation,” third baseman Todd Frazier said.

Sale accused Williams of lying about why the request was made to LaRoche and said the executive vice president’s actions had thrown a wrench into a spring that was off to a fantastic start. The left-hander said he doesn’t expect the issue to affect his play or the team’s goal of winning. But, Sale is concerned that the White Sox have to move on without “two big pieces.”

“We were rolling,” Sale said. “We had positive energy in here. Nobody saw anything as a distraction until all this happened. We just try to pick up the pieces, collect it all and put it back together and keep trucking.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ventura has seen his share of these moments before. He was a member of both New York clubs and also played in 1994 when baseball had its last work stoppage. The fifth-year manager has also experienced Sale’s passionate side before and understands the range of emotions his players have experienced this week.

“I’ve been part of a couple of sit-ins,” Ventura said. “It’s not like I haven’t seen it. But that’s part of baseball. It can get passionate and heated.

“It’s always raw any time a guy is released or retired. I’m dealing with that more than any of the other stuff.”

Now the trick is for the White Sox to turn the corner and rediscover the feel they’ve had this entire spring. Outfielder Adam Eaton expects the team will band together. He likes how they’ve supported LaRoche and how they responded Tuesday.

Ventura thinks the club is capable of it, too, even as they navigate a murky situation.

After all, the clubhouse is already unified. It’s just up to Ventura and his coaches to point them in the right direction.

“That’s my concern, to get them focused right back on track and ready for the season so everybody has their job to do and get out there and be ready to do it,” Ventura said. “They’re going to be all right. They’re a tough group. One thing is for sure, they’re together, 100 percent.”

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.