White Sox

Why White Sox prospect Casey Gillaspie thinks he's better off not worrying about the big picture

gillaspie.jpg
AP

Why White Sox prospect Casey Gillaspie thinks he's better off not worrying about the big picture

He knows there’s potential for an opportunity with the rebuilding White Sox, but Casey Gillaspie wants to make sure his focus is on himself instead of the big picture.

The Triple-A Charlotte first baseman recently said he’s spent too much time on issues he can’t control and has found it to be counterproductive to his goal of making the major leagues. Given he’s had a disappointing season, Gillaspie -- who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Dan Jennings last month -- wanted to finish the season strong. The Rays 2016 minor leaguer of the year, Gillaspie has begun to rebound with Charlotte, hitting .241/.330/456 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 91 plate appearances.

“I think any player would be lying to you if they said they didn’t think about that stuff when they get traded,” Gillaspie said. “Who’s in the system? Who’s in the organization? But I’ve just been trying to enjoy the moment since I got traded, not trying to think about it because I’ve done that in the past and it’s never really worked out for you.

“In a sense, you try and not think about it. But at the same time in the back of your head you know there’s a lot of opportunity over here. I think you’ve just really got to focus on what you need to do in order to get up there and worry about getting better every day.”

The No. 20 pick of the 2014 amateur draft, Gillaspie feels familiar with the organization because of the experiences of his brother, Conor, who played two-plus seasons for the White Sox. The two joined the White Sox in similar circumstances, coming off disappointing campaigns with the teams that drafted them. Acquired as a complementary piece in 2013, Conor played his way into a bigger role and eventually took over as the team’s starting third baseman. The younger Gillaspie, the No. 13 White Sox prospect, said his brother loved his time playing for the White Sox and is thrilled for Casey to be playing with a Midwest-based team.

Whereas Conor Gillaspie was known by fans because he rarely smiled, Casey Gillaspie said the pair plays different styles of baseball. Casey Gillaspie said he can’t match his brother’s intensity on the field and respects the third baseman for his ability to do so.

[MORE: Lucas Giolito shows he belongs in future-rotation conversation] 

He also appreciates the way he’s been able to lean on his older brother during a trying season. Casey Gillaspie, 24, produced a .909 OPS at Triple-A Durham last season and went to spring training. He was one of the team’s final cuts and followed with a rough season at Durham, posting a .653 OPS in 95 games.

One of the biggest drop-offs has been on-base percentage -- Gillaspie posted a .388 in 2016, a figure that dropped to .302 this season.

“This year was kind of a down year for me if I’m being honest,” Gillaspie said. “I could sit here and name a bunch of things I was doing wrong, but at the end of its baseball and sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Having a brother who went through all this and obviously had some unfair moments in his career and things didn’t go his way, I was able to lean on him a little with that. At the end of the day I think it’s a really hard sport to play and I can’t really name one thing that I did that made me have the season I did up to this point. It’s just baseball and I try and forget about it.”

Though surprised by the trade, it didn’t take Gillaspie long to realize moving to a new organization might be a good thing. He’s tried to treat his time with the Knights as a fresh start. One sign his season might be turning around was a wind-blown homer Gillaspie hit at Lehigh Valley on Aug. 13, a ball he didn’t expect to hit out. Including that day, Gillaspie has an .812 OPS over his final 14 games.

“For that to go out, it was a sigh of relief that something’s starting to go my way and that’s kind of how I looked at it and hopefully I can keep on going,” Gillaspie said. “It was a blessing in disguise to get traded when I did. I wasn’t having the year I was hoping to have, but getting over here and just trying to start over in a sense. Really just relax and enjoy the game because at any minute your life can change.”

White Sox teammates on Dallas Keuchel's criticism: 'Someone had to say it'

White Sox teammates on Dallas Keuchel's criticism: 'Someone had to say it'

How the White Sox react to Dallas Keuchel questioning the team’s effort level and accusing some of “going through the motions” will ultimately be determined by the response on the field, but at least two of his teammates backed their starting pitcher Tuesday.

“Somebody had to say it,” shortstop Tim Anderson said.

Catcher James McCann, whose relationship with Keuchel goes back to college, echoed that sentiment.

“I agree with everything Keuchel said. I'll be the first one to tell you he didn't go through the media and say it. He said it to everyone's face in the clubhouse. First off, that's the sign of a leader,” McCann said.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest White Sox news and analysis.

And perhaps that was the biggest revelation Tuesday. Before Keuchel spoke with reporters following his team’s sloppy 5-1 loss to the Tigers Monday night, the pitcher first gathered his teammates together in the clubhouse and told them the same things he was about to express to the media.

Keuchel, who started the game and only allowed three runs in six innings, then told reporters that he saw “sub-par play from everybody” and “it just seemed like we were taking a night off.”

RELATED: White Sox would be wise to listen to Dallas Keuchel

“He's exactly right,” McCann said Tuesday. “Even in a 162-game season, there has to be a sense of urgency. If you go through the motions, you're going to end up looking up in September and chasing the team in first place. And it's even more important this year in a 60-game season ... You have to have that sense of urgency and not just go through the motions.”

Keuchel said some players were taking professional at-bats, while others, well, weren’t. But Anderson didn’t seem to mind a pitcher – let alone one who has only made four starts in a White Sox uniform – making that kind of public observation.

“I just take those words and I use those to motivate me,” Anderson said. “Because he is my pitcher and I do play defense behind him and for a pitcher to tell me we're not taking professional at-bats, I take that to heart. So I'm going to use that as motivation, but all good energy. All positive energy. Nothing against him.”

Anderson certainly wasn’t at fault, as he missed the last 10 days with a minor groin injury. He was activated off the injured list Tuesday and was back in the lineup, leading off. But as the White Sox lost five of their last six games, Anderson could only watch from the bench.

“I don't see anything wrong with anything that (Keuchel) said. Like he said, there is a lot of talent in the locker room, but hopefully that will light a match under some guys and get them going,” Anderson said.

It’s unclear if the entire clubhouse agrees – MLB’s COVID-19 protocols understandably do not allow reporters access to the clubhouse -- but the voices of Anderson and McCann do carry a lot of weight.

“I think it was received great. The way he went about it. No one was singled out,” McCann said. “It was a team type comment. And yeah, it was really the first full team kind of gut check. It couldn't have come from a better guy or at a better time.”

But another interesting revelation is that manager Rick Renteria was not in the meeting that Keuchel held with his teammates. After Monday’s loss, he spoke about a need for players showing accountability in the clubhouse, but at that point, did not know Keuchel was doing just that.

“He felt compelled to do what he did and we encourage all of our guys to do it,” Renteria said. “The way they're going to continue to grow is to be able to know how each feels about each other and the efforts they are giving on a daily basis.”

Renteria admitted that it’s not his “style” to communicate those types of conversations through the media, but he did appreciate that Keuchel talked to his teammates first.

“Prior to the season starting, I had numerous players come up to me and say, 'Listen Ricky, the staff has already taught us how to go about doing our thing. Now it's time for you guys to let us take over and allow us to do the things that we're supposed to do.' That's all they're doing,” Renteria said. “Do I still have a conversation here or there that you guys aren't aware of? Sure. But they are the ones that are holding each other accountable.”

Of course, none of this matters if the White Sox don’t respond on the field.

“Talk is cheap. We can talk all we want. Now we have to back up what was talked about,” McCann said. “It was meant to unite everybody, not to divide guys and I think you're going to see guys with that sense of urgency moving forward."

 

SUBSCRIBE TO THE WHITE SOX TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Chicago White Sox injury update provides good and bad news

Chicago White Sox injury update provides good and bad news

The White Sox announced a lot of great injury updates on Tuesday, but with the good came some bad news as well.

José Abreu is back in the White Sox lineup after he was taken out in the 8th inning on Monday night with a hip stinger. So is Tim Anderson who was activated from the 10-day IL list after he suffered a groin strain. Edwin Encarnacion also makes his first appearance in the White Sox lineup since Aug. 4 when he hurt his shoulder.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest White Sox news and analysis.

As for Abreu, manager Rick Renteria says the injury was never very serious, and Abreu didn’t even want to come out of the game.

“Looking at the video it looks like he was at full extension when his foot hit the bag,” Renteria said. “Heel to bag is what it looked like, kind of shot his leg up into his hip. It was just a little stinger. We took him out last night with just a little bit of caution.

“He didn’t want to come out, you know ‘Pito,’ he didn’t want to come out. But it was the right thing to do, and he’s in there again. He’s doing well.”

But as three return, another goes down. Leury García, the man who did an admirable job replacing Anderson while he was hurt, was placed on the 10-day IL with a strained left thumb. García hurt himself while sliding head-first into first base on Monday night.

Since Aug. 1, the White Sox’ first game without Anderson, García hit .304 and drove in four runs. But García’s real value to the Sox is his ability to place nearly every position on the field. That versatility is a luxury to Renteria, and will certainly be missed if the injury bug strikes another White Sox position player.


RELATED: White Sox-Cardinals series, amid COVID-19 outbreak, still scheduled to play

SUBSCRIBE TO THE WHITE SOX TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.