White Sox

White Sox react to Larry King's trade prediction

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White Sox react to Larry King's trade prediction

CLEVELAND -- The always-entertaining July 31 rumor mill took an unexpected turn on Friday when talk show legend Larry King predicted a White Sox/Los Angeles Dodgers trade.

A longtime Dodgers fan, King tweeted:

White Sox players and manager Robin Ventura took the rumor as they would any other of the hundreds that surface in the days and weeks that lead up to the deadline -- with skepticism. Ventura, who played two seasons for the Dodgers and is familiar with King, had fun with the rumor -- “I missed that one,” he said.

“When I played there, you run into him,” Ventura said. “They would come out to games. Not enough -- I haven’t called him about the trade, no.”

[MORE: White Sox instructor injured during early batting practice]

With Jeff Samardzija headed for free agency, the White Sox have grabbed their fair share of headlines this July as the hot stove heats up. Samardzija could be headed to any number of teams and the Dodgers have been speculated as one potential landing spot. For the most part, veteran players have been schooled on how to block out trade rumors. But even they can’t completely brush them off as friends and family contact players when they’re involved, pitcher John Danks said.

“You hear things every year, it’s inevitable,” Danks said. “A lot of times it’s maybe someone trying to stir something up and a lot of times maybe there’s a little bit of truth to it. Try to take it all with a grain of salt until something happens. But I think this is an exciting time for baseball fans in general, there’s a lot of tension around it. Everybody likes a big move, especially if you’re on a team that’s on the receiving end of it. I don’t worry about it too much, but I’d be lying if I said I never heard my name mentioned.”

Danks doesn’t have any social media accounts. He’s not interested in seeking out rumors.

And he’s not alone.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Chris Sale made it very clear at the All-Star Game last week that he’s unimpressed by Twitter and Facebook because he sees them as distractions.

“I don’t have any of that crap,” Sale said. “I don’t read it. I don’t pick up the newspaper. It’s all distractions, really. It’s a bunch of stuff that people write that don’t know what they’re talking about -- no offense. I don’t pay attention to it. I have a job to do and that’s be a pitcher for my team.”

Ventura has experienced the trade deadline as a player and now as the team’s manager. This is the time of year where people “dream lot of things up” and he said he understands it’s a fun topic for baseball fans.

But Ventura also knows all that really matters is when his phone rings and general manager Rick Hahn informs him what is about to or has taken place.

“It’s actually worse now in the age of social media,” Ventura said. “People throw stuff out there that you know for a fact isn’t going to. Do you know for sure? No. But I know there is enough in the past that I knew was not true so again we are just focused on what we are doing today. If there’s something that’s happening, Rick will call me.”

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?

Update: Our Chuck Garfien found this video of Enoy taking some cuts with his big brother — all decked out in White Sox gear, too.

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.