White Sox

White Sox, Orioles have mixed emotions about making MLB history

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White Sox, Orioles have mixed emotions about making MLB history

BALTIMORE — Opinions are divided on whether or not the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles should have played Wednesday afternoon following several days of civil unrest that led to the cancellation of the previous two games.

But with a need to make up any missed contests and a more peaceful night Tuesday, the White Sox said they are glad to play at least one game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards — even if it made history. The two teams are playing in the first ever game in Major League Baseball history that is closed to the public in an attempt to ensure law enforcement resources aren’t tied up in an effort to protect the event.

[MORE: Orioles rout White Sox in historic game]

“I’m not happy that I’m the first to do it and I wish it never would have happened but it is what it is,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. “I’m excited to do this and what’s going on outside, it’s hard to speak upon. But you’ve got to play the games and get them in and this is the best way they feel is necessary to do it.”

Whereas Monday’s pregame coincided with the beginning of riots that resulted in 200-plus arrests, 159 fires and 20 police officers injured, Tuesday was much calmer as a weeklong citywide curfew was imposed at 10 p.m. Though it’s been surreal and “scary,” the reduced tension left players and coaches feeling as if they could play Wednesday.

“We don’t feel the same way we did on Monday,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Yesterday there was a little concern of being able to be in here and keep it safe. They didn’t necessarily want to move security or National Guard down here just to protect us while playing a game. Yeah, it’s different today.”

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Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said he understands why no fans attended the contest but also believes it would have been a unifying event for the city at a time it needs it most.

“It's not an easy time for anybody right now,” Jones said. “It doesn't matter what race you are.

"We need this game to be played, but we need the city to be healed first.

“To have fans, it would be awesome because it can give them three hours of distractions, and that’s what sports brings, it’s a small distraction from the real world. I think the people of Baltimore need that, but at the same time the safety of those people are very important to those people, the Orioles, Major League Baseball and to the city of Baltimore. Therefore it’s understandable why they’re not allowing any fans. It’s going to be weird, but it’s understandable.”

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.