White Sox

White Sox offense backs Carlos Rodon in win over Twins

White Sox offense backs Carlos Rodon in win over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- His rookie campaign might have ended early, but the White Sox have no such plans for Carlos Rodon this season.

Rodon matched a season-high with seven innings pitched on Friday night and the White Sox rallied back to beat the Minnesota Twins 11-4 in front of 20,806 at Target Field. Jose Abreu drove in three runs and Todd Frazier blasted his 35th home run in support of Rodon, who has won four straight decisions. With four or five starts left to make, Rodon could reach the 160-inning mark after pitching 139 1/3 last year.

“I think he’s going through the whole thing,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s getting better as he goes along and this is part of the growing of a guy who’s still young and getting through it. He understands how to go through a whole season. I think it’s important for him where he had a little time off. It has been a good run for him.”

The left-hander wasn’t quite as sharp against the Twins on Friday as he was when he posted a 1.47 ERA in five starts in August. Holding a 1-0 lead, Rodon gave up three straight hits to start the third inning, including a three-run homer by Brian Dozier.

“Dozier has been on me the whole year now,” Rodon said. “I just can’t get him.”

He also surrendered a one-run lead in the fifth after giving up consecutive singles to Byron Buxton and Dozier to open the frame. But Rodon would eventually settle down and retired the last seven batters he faced. He credited catcher Omar Narvaez once again for making a mid-game adjustment that helped him find a rhythm.

With only 79 pitches thrown, Ventura intended to keep Rodon going. But the White Sox offense prevented him from staying in the game with a long eighth inning.

The effort gives Rodon 136 innings this season, which is only 3 1/3 fewer than he had in 2015. Because he had also thrown 10 innings in the minors last season, the White Sox wanted to curb Rodon’s workload and he didn’t pitch in any of the team’s final eight games.

But that won’t be the case this season, Ventura said before the game.

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With Miguel Gonzalez returning on Tuesday, the White Sox intend to employ six starting pitchers for at least this turn. Were they to stay with a six-man rotation, Rodon would have at least four turns left. But the team could very easily manipulate the rotation and Rodon may be in line for five more starts. With him averaging nearly six innings per start, Rodon seems destined to surpass the 160 mark, which is fine by him.

“We are trying to build this year,” Rodon said. “Finish out. What do I have five starts left? Finish out strong and next year plan is to get up to 200 innings and let me go hopefully.”

He’d love to have this kind of support to go with those 200 innings.

Rodon -- who allowed four runs (three earned), walked one and struck out four -- entered Friday in the bottom quarter of the majors in average run support.

But for the second time in three starts, the White Sox offense delivered big production for Rodon as they matched a season high in runs and hits.

Trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Frazier blasted a game-tying shot to center off Twins starter Kyle Gibson. It was Frazier's 35th home run of the season and the 34th Frazier has hit while playing third base this season, which is a new franchise record. Bill Melton hit 33 in 1971. Manager Robin Ventura hit 34 in 1996, with 32 coming at third base. As Frazier rounded third, he stared into the dugout at Ventura and then walked over to shake his hands with Ventura nonchalantly acting as if he didn’t see the team’s current third baseman.

The White Sox took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Melky Cabrera, who finished with three hits and three RBIs. They regained a 5-4 lead in the sixth on a ground-rule double by Carlos Sanchez and scored three times in the eighth and ninth innings.

Abreu had a two-out, two-run single in the eighth to break it open. He has now reached base in 29 consecutive games and upped his RBI total to 79.

“Congratulations to Todd Frazier No. 35,” Rodon said. “Excited to see that one go.

“Yesterday we swung it well and today we were swinging it well. I knew I had to keep them at four and let my offense work and let the guys make plays out there and they did a great job.”

White Sox pitchers Hamilton & Burr get a shoutout from Lin-Manuel Miranda

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USA TODAY

White Sox pitchers Hamilton & Burr get a shoutout from Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda has landed in Chicago and he made sure to give some his favorite teams, places and people in the city a shout out on Twitter.

Roughly five minutes passed before the playwright and actor of Hamilton fame quickly remembered to give a quick greeting to the White Sox and two specific members of the team.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Alexander Hamilton in "Hamilton: An American Musical" made sure to give a specific shout out to White Sox relief pitchers Ryan Burr and Ian Hamilton. The musical Hamilton of course discusses the infamous duel between Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

White Sox pitchers Burr and Hamilton have been inextricably linked due to their last names, ever since  they first became teammates with the White Sox Class-A team in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2017. And they took their bond one step further in 2019, recreating the Burr-Hamilton duel in front of the entire Whie Sox team

Miranda is currently in Chicago for the opening and ribbon cutting of "Hamilton: The Exhibition". The exhibit will open on Friday, April 26.

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Remember That Guy: Charlie O’Brien

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Charlie O’Brien

Back in the day, Major League catchers used to wear a backwards helmet with a separate mask strapped to it.

The beginning of the end of those masks was September 13, 1996 in Toronto, when Charlie O’Brien introduced the hockey goalie-style catcher’s mask.

Remember that guy?

Charlie O’Brien was born May 1, 1960 in Tulsa, OK.  He was originally drafted in 1978 out of Bishop Kelley (Tulsa) High School by the Rangers in the 14th round, then again out of Wichita State in the 21st round in 1981 by the Mariners (that same year his college teammate Joe Carter was taken in the 1st round by the Cubs). Finally, O’Brien signed after being selected by the A’s in the 5th round in 1982, following a dynamic .359/.399/.659 season with 25 HR and 116 RBI in 87 games.  

O’Brien worked his way through the minors, reaching Triple-A Tacoma in 1984 and earning a 16-game trial with the Oakland A’s in June 1985. He caught the final inning of a 10-1 loss on June 2 in his MLB debut in Baltimore, and eventually collected his first MLB hit – a double off the Tigers’ Frank Tanana – on August 22, his first career start. With a couple of young catchers in Mickey Tettleton & Terry Steinbach blocking his path to the Majors, O’Brien was shipped from Oakland to Milwaukee in March 1986. He played well over the next two years in El Paso and Denver in the Brewers system, and he received another 10-game stint in the Majors in May 1987. O’Brien started 1988 back in Denver, but in June he was called up to the big club for good.

He served as backup catcher from Milwaukee to Queens (he was traded to the Mets in August 1990) to Atlanta (where he won a World Series in 1995) and Toronto, developing a reputation as a solid catcher. For his career, he threw out 37% of attempted base stealers, which is comfortably above the league average of 31%. He caught 13 pitchers who won Cy Young awards at some point, including a string of four in a row – Greg Maddux (1994-95), Pat Hentgen (1996) and Roger Clemens (1997).

Then there was that day in 1996 where he revolutionized catching, introducing the modern style of catcher’s mask. He got the idea for the mask while watching hockey, likely thinking about all the foul tips he took off the mask, wondering how to find a safer alternative. He worked with a few manufacturers and Major League Baseball to make the dream a reality.

In December 1997, O’Brien arrived in Chicago as a free agent signing by the White Sox. He collected three hits in the 1998 season opener, becoming the first White Sox catcher with three hits on opening day since Brian Downing in 1977. He only appeared in 57 games with the White Sox before a July 30 trade to the Angels, but he was with the Sox long enough to provide an important Chicago historical footnote. On June 6, 1998, O’Brien became the first White Sox player to hit a regular season home run at Wrigley Field. It came in the 6th inning off Kevin Tapani, and the two-run blast scored Magglio Ordoñez and gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead which they couldn’t hang onto, as they went on to lose 7-6.

In total, O’Brien played 800 games spread out over 15 seasons for eight teams. He hit .221 with 56 home runs in his career (and an additional homer in the 1995 NLCS), but his calling card was his solid defense, as well as being an innovator. His final MLB game was June 21, 2000 for the Expos in Montreal.

After his playing career, O’Brien (who wore No. 22 for most of his career) went on to own the Catch 22 Ranch in Northeastern Oklahoma, where he raises cattle and deer. Charlie and his ranch has been featured on the Pursuit Channel’s TV show “Deer Thugs.” An avid outdoorsman and hunter, he went on to form a company Charlie O’ Products, which sells hunting products. He also wrote a book The Cy Young Catcher along with co-author Doug Wedge, which chronicles his days in the Major Leagues.