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.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

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

Double-A Birmingham

Zack Collins hit two home runs as part of a three-hit day. He drove in two runs, scored two runs and walked once in a 10-4 loss. Collins now has seven homers on the campaign with an ungodly .421 on-base percentage. He's batting .326 over his last 25 games. Eloy Jimenez had two hits and a walk, and Jordan Guerrero gave up four runs and walked five in four innings.

Class A Winston-Salem

The Dash lost both games of a doubleheader, 10-5 and 7-0. Luis Alexander Basabe, Alex Call and Gavin Sheets each picked up two hits on the day.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and scored a run in a 2-1 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 2-1 win.

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.