White Sox

White Sox touched by greatness during Ali's visit

406092.jpg

White Sox touched by greatness during Ali's visit

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
1:30 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. The Chicago White Sox were touched by greatness before their game against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, as Muhammad Ali visited with the team in a closed-door workshop intended to educate and inspire.

Alis wife, Lonnie, began the session telling the players she was a lifelong baseball fan. I live and breathe the game, she said. I know what it takes for you to get here.

Lonnie Ali connected the six core values her husband has lived byrespect, confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, spiritualityvalues that guide the work of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville and Alis Athletes for Hope foundation.

Main speaker Ivan Blumberg, CEO of Athletes for Hope, handled the heavy lifting of the session, with Ali sitting, flanked by Lonnie, sister-in-law Marilyn, and family friend and White Sox GM Ken Williams.

READ: White Sox report card for Week 1

The meat of the session was marked by a large amount of player participation, but was led off in shocking fashion, as chatterbug third-base coach Jeff Cox was rendered speechless by a question about hope. Later, manager Ozzie Guillen dogged Omar Vizquel for his admission that coaches are one of the types of people who give him hope (Ozzie to Omar: You dont have to lie just because Im here!).

Among the White Sox players and staff engaged in the lively debate during a session primarily focused on an athletes obligation toward service were Kevin Hickey, Will Ohman, Edwin Jackson, Lastings Milledge, Guillen, Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy, Vizquel, Sergio Santos, Brent Lillibridge, Stefan Gartrell, and Williams.

The session was indeed tailor-made for debate, whether it was Milledge and Juan Pierre trying to school Alex Rios about Alis status as The Greatest, to a number of athletes in service debates spilling out after the workshop. A.J. Pierzynski and Konerko continued debating how an athletes fame impacts service (Konerko, in support of the bigger name-bigger impact faction: Hey, Im a numbers guy, what can I say?) and later it was Pierzynski, Ohman, and Peavy discussing the topic as well.

READ & WATCH: Sale on pitching, food & 'the year of my life'

The whole thing was cool, Pierzynski said. Blumberg gave very valid points about a lot of things, basically getting out there and doing anything you can do to help, whether its time or money. Its the message the White Sox believe in very strongly.

I try to do everything I can to help people. Its just something everyone should try to do, no matter what you, how you live, or what your means are. You can always try to help other people.

Konerko shared Pierzynskis sentiments. The Captain also agreed that while both players had met Ali before, it was always awe-inspiring to be in the presence of The Greatest.

That was pretty cool, Konerko said. Hes one of the most recognized people on the planet. Were public figures and people know us, but Ali is a whole other ball of wax. Its like meeting a President.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Allen Thomas, Alek Thomas share a precious father-son moment after son homers against dad's White Sox

Allen Thomas, Alek Thomas share a precious father-son moment after son homers against dad's White Sox

Every father loves seeing their son hit a home run in a game, but White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas had a different perspective of his son’s home run on Wednesday.

Thomas’ son, Alek Thomas, was drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Diamondbacks and is still in big league camp with Arizona. He homered against the White Sox in the ninth inning of a Cactus League game.

Alek, an 18-year-old Mount Carmel grad, went through the normal celebrations with his teammates, but soon after wanted to get dad’s attention. He was waving in dad’s direction as if to say, “Hey dad, did you see that?”

At first, Allen was trying to play it cool and not draw attention to the fact that his son just homered off his team. Eventually, they made eye contact and had a precious interaction caught in a split screen on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast.

Both son and father saw the clip on social media and interacted as you expect father and son to do.

 

Watch the video above to see the home run and the full interaction between the two.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Eloy's comin': What the reported long-term deal means for the White Sox present and future

Eloy's comin': What the reported long-term deal means for the White Sox present and future

Hide your hearts, White Sox fans.

Eloy's finally comin' to the South Side, it would appear, with every national baseball writer under the Twitterverse's sun reporting that the White Sox are on the brink of a long-term deal with the No. 3 prospect in baseball, a contract that would keep Jimenez as part of what Rick Hahn is hoping is a perennial contender for the better part of the next decade.

The deal, which has not yet been made official by the team, is hard to see as anything but a smashing success for the White Sox. Are there risks with guaranteeing a reported $43 million to a player who's never swung a bat in a major league game? Sure. But the positives far outweigh the potential negatives.

In the immediate, it completely wipes away the service-time element that has been dominating the conversation over Jimenez's approaching major league debut. Though they never publicly stated this was their intent, the White Sox, playing well within baseball's rules, were expected to delay Jimenez's big league arrival a few weeks into the 2019 regular season, earning an extra year of team control by doing so and turning the typical six-year rookie contract into seven years of club control. Any team would be foolish not to take advantage of those rules, but the accusation of "manipulation" now never has to be made and the argument doesn't even need to take place. The entire topic gets thrown out the window and this contract locks in six surefire years of control with team options for another two. If the contract lasts all eight years, it will assure Jimenez stays in a White Sox uniform one year longer than he would have without it.

With that service-time issue no longer an issue, Jimenez's debut doesn't need to be delayed. He can appear on the White Sox roster for Opening Day next week in Kansas City. That gives him a full season in the majors in 2019, with the opportunity to do the usual growing and developing and learning that comes along with a first full season in the bigs. Rick Renteria will be able to pencil Jimenez into his everyday lineup starting on Day 1. It might not necessarily translate to any more wins for the White Sox this season, considering he was only expected to be in the minor leagues for a few weeks, but it makes the team better from the jump.

Arguably the team's best player will be in the lineup for the season opener next Thursday and for the home opener April 4, not sentenced to a fortnight or two of avoiding injury down in Charlotte. It provides a tangible example of progress in a rebuilding effort that's been plagued by negative headlines of late, be it the incensed reaction from the fan base following the front office's missing out on Manny Machado or another highly rated pitching prospect having Tommy John surgery and getting put on the shelf for a year. Instead, the No. 74 jerseys can start flying off the shelves, and the top reason to pay attention to this team in 2019 begins a month earlier than it would have. All good things.

Obviously, Jimenez benefits in the short term, too, getting a big raise right away. That's life-changing money for just about anyone, and that includes a 22-year-old minor leaguer from the Dominican Republic. Though he's delaying his first stab at free agency by a year, he gets stability in return, as well as a pretty nice demonstration of the faith the White Sox have in him to become one of the game's elite players.

But this deal isn't about the White Sox getting Jimenez in the lineup every day over the next six months, it's about getting him in the lineup every day for the next eight years. The assurance that he'll be a part of the core for the next eight years extends the planned contention window that far into the future. It provides an anchor in the lineup that figures to feature more players like Jimenez over the coming years: the Luis Roberts, Micker Adolfos, Nick Madrigals and Zack Collinses.

Of course, it's unlikely the White Sox will get to perennial-contender status on prospects alone, and the outside additions they tried to make this offseason will have to come at some point. This deal helps with that, too. Jimenez could've conceivably made more money in the arbitration process. The White Sox could use the savings on free agents, and luring them figures to get easier once they see what Jimenez can do.

See? A wealth of positives. The pessimists will track down the negatives, and they won't make incorrect points. Jimenez is completely unproven as a major leaguer, without a single big league plate appearance to his name. Prospects, even the highly rated ones, don't always hit, and to push the chips in on six to eight years of a player who's never seen major league pitching is by definition risky. There's a reason there were only two deals like this prior to this one.

But this deal reflects just how highly the White Sox think of their organization's top-rated prospect. Hahn and Renteria both said this offseason that they believe Jimenez can be on the same level as the big-name free agents the team pursued this offseason. Jimenez has the same kinds of expectations for himself.

Those expectations have now been teamed with commitment. It looks like a winner for the White Sox, but the eventual review of the deal will be made by Jimenez and how much he can do to help this rebuilding team turn into a World Series winner.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.