White Sox

White Sox ready for normal after Wednesday highlights wild week

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White Sox ready for normal after Wednesday highlights wild week

MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re ready for a few days of normalcy but the White Sox acknowledged they would have lasting memories of Wednesday’s historic game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Whether they were seated in the bullpen, dugout, broadcast booth or standing in a coach’s box, every member of the White Sox seemed to notice something different about the first game in the history of Major League Baseball to be closed to the public.

Though it’s a game they won’t soon forget, outfielder Adam Eaton, who remembers hearing sirens echo and helicopters hover, hopes it’s doesn’t happen again.

“There was no energy,” Eaton said. “It’s something to tell my grandkids about when I’m 50 or 60. But I don’t think we ever want to experience it again.”

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez likened the experience to closed practices with the Cuban National Team. Though he found it strange, Ramirez understands why the game was played under the conditions they were.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Rioting throughout Baltimore on Monday led to the cancellation of the first two games between the White Sox and Orioles. After a number of options were considered, the teams agreed to the surreal setting in the name of safety. Ramirez said he’s thankful for the coordinated efforts of local law enforcement and elected officials, MLB and the teams for moving the start time up five hours.

“In that situation with the city, the most important thing is to protect the city and protect the citizens,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “For us it was weird, but it was a measure that had to be done.”

From beyond center field, bullpen catcher Adam Ricks distinctly remembers hearing second-base ump Bob Davidson call “home run” when Manny Machado cleared the left-center field wall in the fifth inning. Pitcher Carlos Rodon could hear the ball loudly pop the catcher’s glove at home plate even though he stood more than 450 feet away -- “You never hear that, especially that far away,” Rodon said.

As he took his customary spot next to the bag, third-base coach Joe McEwing finally noticed how empty the 45,971-seat venue was after the first foul ball.

“You usually look to see where the ball went and say ‘Heads up,’ and you understand that nobody’s there,” McEwing said. “It was just a unique situation."

Considering how “intense” OPACY normally is, closer David Robertson found the setting to be quite eerie. Robertson visited Baltimore between 9-10 times a season while with the New York Yankees. Hearing the team’s fans launch into the “Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh” portion of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” has been seared into his memory over the years. At one point, the 50-75 fans standing outside the gates of the stadium on West Camden Street did their rendition of Jack White’s hit song.

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And when that very group cheered during the Orioles’ six-run, first-inning outburst, it provided White Sox analyst Steve Stone with a feeling he’s never had before.

“They couldn’t be a part of it,” Stone said. “It was totally silent. It seemed like a disembodied cheering from beyond the fences. I guess for the first time I had the feeling of what it might be like to actually be one of the inhabitants of the zoo.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura is hoping to return to a normal baseball routine after one of the strangest weeks of his career. Between last Thursday’s brawl, Friday’s suspended game, Saturday’s rainout, Sunday’s quasi-doubleheader, the two cancellations and an empty park on Wednesday, things couldn’t be more surreal for the White Sox.

“It’s been an unusual week,” Ventura said. “No two ways around it. We’ve had to find a way to adjust, find a normalcy, a rhythm of getting back and working and playing in games.”

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease picked up a win in his first start, but his second did not go as well.

Cease pitched six innings Tuesday at the Royals and gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out seven, but took the loss in an ugly game for the White Sox.

The game got off to an ominous start with Eloy Jimenez getting injured on the first batter Cease faced. The White Sox defense didn’t help Cease much either with three errors (Cease had one of those on an errant pickoff throw).

After giving up six runs in the first four innings, Cease settled down to retire the final eight batters he faced. He finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk and threw 67 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

Cease struck out six in his first start and is the first pitcher in White Sox history to strike out six or more in each of his first two career appearances.

A deeper look at Cease’s numbers show his swing and miss stuff hasn’t quite caught on as expected so far. Cease got 13 swinging strikes in 101 pitches in his major league debut. He got 12 whiffs on 108 pitches on Tuesday. His slider did get five swinging strikes on 25 pitches against the Royals.

Fastball command remains a key part to Cease’s success. He only threw 26 out of 54 fastballs for strikes in his debut. Cease improved upon that with 31 strikes on 50 fastballs against the Royals.

Most of the Royals’ damage came against Cease’s fastball as well. Six of the Royals’ eight hits off Cease, including all three extra base hits, were off heaters. Cease also gave up four hits with two strikes.

There has been plenty of hype surrounding Cease since he joined the White Sox, but he hasn’t hit the ground running in the majors just yet. Having 13 days between the first two starts of his career due to the all-star break and the White Sox giving him some extra rest also isn’t the ideal scenario for a young pitcher.

Cease’s ERA is now at 5.73, which isn’t going to set the world on fire. Still, there have been enough positives in his first two starts to see where reasonable improvement could lead to Cease becoming the pitcher the White Sox expect him to be.

 

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: Next steps for the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Next steps for the White Sox rebuild

David Haugh, Sam Panayotovich and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Cubs deal World Series hero Mike Montgomery to the Royals for catcher Martin Maldonado. So what does that mean for Willson Contreras' injury? And who will get the majority of the playing time behind the plate?

10:30 - The guys look ahead to Dylan Cease's second Major League start and discuss what players should be dealt at the deadline to continue the White Sox rebuild.

16:00 - The Blackhawks deal Artem Anisimov to the Senators. Could this mean Kirby Dach can make the team on opening night?

18:30 - Robbie Gould won't be a Bear next season. Is the Bears Week 1 kicker currently on their roster?

20:00 - Did EA Sports diss Mitch Trubisky? DARN NATIONAL MEDIA!!!!

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: