White Sox

White Sox players defend Tommy Kahnle after LaTroy Hawkins ripped former teammate

White Sox players defend Tommy Kahnle after LaTroy Hawkins ripped former teammate

ANAHEIM, Calif. — White Sox players had a loud message for LaTroy Hawkins on Wednesday afternoon: don’t mess with our teammate.

Several players and White Sox manager Rick Renteria noted how stunned they were to hear the sharp comments made by Hawkins about Tommy Kahnle during Tuesday night’s Minnesota Twins broadcast. A longtime pitcher turned analyst, Hawkins noted without prompting that he and Kahnle once fought in 2014 when both played for the Colorado Rockies. Shortly after, Hawkins, who played 21 seasons, went on to call Kahnle, “one of the worst teammates I’ve ever had in my life.” Word of the commentary spread rapidly via social media on Tuesday night and White Sox players quickly came to Kahnle’s defense on Wednesday.

“There was no need for him to even say that,” starting pitcher Derek Holland said. “They weren’t even talking about that to begin with. I get that it’s probably not my place to say anything, but (Kahnle) is one of my teammates. He’s been nothing but great to this whole team. And I know every single one of these guys in this clubhouse would back him up. But to bring something up on a live broadcast, which was not even mentioned to begin with, is just childish.”

“There’s no need for that, especially from a guy that has got 20 years in the league and has all the respect from everybody. I respect him, but that comment wasn’t needed. I just felt like he wanted to bring that out to try to make Tommy look like the bad guy when Tommy’s definitely not a bad guy at all.”

“We can easily take a survey in this clubhouse and I would say that 10 out of 10 people will say he’s a great teammate. He’s just very loud and that’s his personality. You can’t take that against him. I wasn’t here for any of that stuff. But from what I was told, things went a little farther than they should have gone. If you’re going to do that, you need to do it to everyone else. Don’t just single out one person. I’ve been with some classy guys and never seen anything like that before. I just thought it was kind of disrespectful for him to bring that up in a situation that didn’t even need to be brought up and make somebody look bad that’s not a bad person.”

A rookie in 2014, Kahnle said Hawkins is allowed to believe what he wants. Even though he doesn’t have any social media accounts, Kahnle heard about the broadcast and only is interested in moving on.

“Stuff happened in the past,” Kahnle said. “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. That’s really all I’ve got. I don’t take it to heart or anything.

“I really have nothing on it. I put it way in the past. I’m over it.

“My friends and people texted me, but it didn’t bother me. I just laughed it off. Oh well. It’s not going to affect me or anybody, so we’re all good here.”

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Not everybody was quite as ready as Kahnle to move on.

Teammates acknowledge that Kahnle is loud and passionate. Kahnle endeared himself to the clubhouse in spring training with a lively impersonation of former WWE wrestler The Ultimate Warrior during a mid-morning presentation that had teammates in laughter. White Sox players know Kahnle to be a playful, energetic kid and what to expect.

“It’s pretty funny because Tommy is not a bad teammate,” veteran reliever Anthony Swarzak said. “It’s that simple. He’s not a bad person. He doesn’t do malicious things to one up the guy next to him. He’s a good guy. He works hard. He cares about the game. He cares about his teammates. He’s a little different. That doesn’t make him a bad person.

“To hear that coming from a guy with the reputation that Hawkins has — he’s known as such a great teammate and to be such a nice guy. The whole thing just seems a little, just so out of nowhere, especially because the incident happened so long ago.”

Renteria said he was caught off-guard by comments. He’s another Kahnle supporter, sometimes referring to the right-hander as Tommy Boy.

“Surprising to me,” Renteria said. “I think everybody in the game has their own opinion about certain things and you run across different people in your life in the game and some people are going to like you and some aren’t going to like you. I happen to like Tommy. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Without going into detail, Holland said he has discussed the 2014 incident with Kahnle several times. His contention is that Hawkins opted to bring up the fight without prompting. Twins play-by-play man Dick Bremer offered Hawkins a way out, noting it was probably “just good-natured, right?” But Hawkins continued on.

“I just don’t like the fact of somebody being singled out like that and it wasn’t even talked about,” Holland said. “Listening to the interview and stuff, it already looked awkward enough when he mentioned it because they didn’t care. They weren’t trying to talk about that because it’s not what it’s about. But I have respect for (Hawkins). He’s been around the game forever. He definitely accomplished a lot, obviously more than I have. But it’s just one of those things that I think he could have handled that a lot better than he did, but it’s just kind of how it is. I’ve got Tommy’s back. I know how Tommy is a good person and like I said, everybody in this clubhouse has his back and we’ll back him up on that.”

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.

What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

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