MLB All-Star Game

A couple wishes fulfilled for White Sox at All-Star Game

A couple wishes fulfilled for White Sox at All-Star Game

CLEVELAND — Before Tuesday night's All-Star Game, the White Sox first timers were asked what they wanted to do in this one.

Who did Lucas Giolito want to strike out?

"The best of the best," Giolito said. "(Christian) Yelich, (Cody) Bellinger, those types of guys. That'd be cool to go out and strike out a guy that could go on and win MVP this year."

Who did James McCann want to catch? Besides Giolito, of course.

"The one guy that really sticks out is (Aroldis) Chapman," McCann said. "I've had to face him. I've had to see 102 coming at me. I think it'd be fun to see 102 coming at me as a catcher."

Well, the baseball gods granted those wishes in the Midsummer Classic.

Giolito made his appearance in the fourth inning. He started things with a four-pitch walk to Freddie Freeman but followed it up with a strikeout — of Bellinger. The next two batters each grounded out, giving Giolito a scoreless inning in his first All-Star Game.

Coincidentally, the inning mirrored one of the biggest talking points surrounding Giolito's incredible transformation this season. He got into early trouble, but instead of letting things unravel, he got back in the zone and retired the next three batters he faced.

"Felt good," Giolito said of striking out Bellinger. "He's in the running for MVP, and I was able to put him away right there.

"You have to have that (confidence). If you want to compete at this level and stay here for a long time, you have to have the confidence that you're better than everybody else every time you're pitching. That's what I take into my games, whether it's a start against whoever during the regular season or an All-Star Game, one inning.

"For me, that's what it's all about."

Of course, this was on the biggest stage Giolito's ever pitched in, so it's no surprise that there were some jitters.

"He did a good job," Jose Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "After that inning, we were talking in the dugout, and he said that during the first batter he was really anxious and nervous. And I told him, 'Hey, that's normal. But you settled down after, and that was good.' It was a fun moment for him and for me, too."

Then there's McCann, who got his wish to catch the flame-throwing closer from the New York Yankees. The first question: How's your hand?

"It's good," McCann said. "He threw the ball extremely well.

"It's easier to catch than it is to hit. There's no doubt about that."

Catching Chapman, though, might not have even been the highlight of his night. He smoked a line-drive single for a hit in his only trip to the plate. And he also made a diving catch in foul territory, hanging onto a pop up to end an eighth-inning rally by the National League.

"It was fun. I think the smile that came across my face tells it all.

"Being around the best players and stepping on the same field as them, it's a dream come true."

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.

Jose Abreu's desire to stay with White Sox: 'I don't want to miss what is coming, and I'm going to be here'

Jose Abreu's desire to stay with White Sox: 'I don't want to miss what is coming, and I'm going to be here'

CLEVELAND — I’m not sure how much more evidence anyone needs to know that Jose Abreu wants to remain with the White Sox past the 2019 season.

But Abreu’s providing more anyway.

For the third time in less than a week, Abreu has voiced his unwavering intent to be a part of the White Sox for the foreseeable future, even though his current contract is up at the end of this season and he’s slated to hit the free-agent market.

Speaking Tuesday from the American League clubhouse at the All-Star Game, Abreu laid it all out there once more, just like he did a day prior, giddy over what the White Sox are building on the South Side and the thought of being a part of it.

“That tells you how good we are right now and how good we can be,” he said through team interpreter Billy Russo, asked what it meant to have teammates joining him at the Midsummer Classic after being the lone White Sox representative a year ago. “And we’re going to be very, very good.

“That’s why I’m telling you guys that if the White Sox don’t sign me, I’m going to sign here anyway. I’m going to sign myself here. I’m going to be here, believe me. I’m going to be here.

“I don’t want to miss this, I don’t want to miss what is coming, and I’m going to be here.”

It’s an obvious example of how much he enjoys being a part of this organization, despite the fact that he’s never played for a White Sox team that finished the season with a winning record. As he’s been tasked with — and willingly adopted — the role of acting as a mentor to guys like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez, who are expected to be the stars of future championship teams, he’s had a front-row seat to all the talent Rick Hahn’s front office has acquired since starting this rebuilding process.

He knows what’s coming.

After blasting a walk-off home run in a picture-perfect day for the rebuild — the same day Dylan Cease won in his major league debut — he said he saw the White Sox building “something very big” and that “I don’t want to leave here.”

Monday, during All-Star media responsibilities in Cleveland, he said: “I think my desire to stay with this team is getting bigger every day, after every game. We are good, and we’re going to be very, very good. For me, there’s no secret. I want to be here.”

So, yeah, it’s been pretty darn obvious what Abreu’s ideal outcome is: staying in a White Sox uniform. And he’s going to do it himself if he has to.

That doesn’t sound like it will be necessary, though. The White Sox have raved about him as much as he’s raved about them, and it’s been no secret that they would like him to be a part of their future, too.

“We, obviously, are biased,” general manager Rick Hahn said last week. “We get the benefit of seeing what he does in the clubhouse. He is a modest and humble producer year in and year out and a great asset to us, both on the field and off.

“He helps teach (young players) professionalism and helps teach them commitment and day-in, day-out commitment to trying to win a championship. He is relentless in his pursuit of making himself the best, and he takes those young guys under his wing and sort of shows them the path.

“I don’t think he takes for granted a single day in the big leagues and takes an extreme amount of pride in wearing a White Sox uniform, and he models that for the young players in this organization.”

Hahn went on to call Abreu a model player, and after hearing what his All-Star teammates, Lucas Giolito and James McCann, said Monday about his impact, it’s almost impossible to envision the good times coming for this franchise and Abreu not being a part of them.

It almost seems like the White Sox feel about Abreu the same way they’ve felt about players who now have their numbers retired and have statues in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Abreu might be providing more evidence than is necessary about how he’d like things to shake out. But the feeling appears to be mutual.

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.

Everybody loves Jose: Why the White Sox need Jose Abreu as a part of their future

Everybody loves Jose: Why the White Sox need Jose Abreu as a part of their future

CLEVELAND — What kind of impact does Jose Abreu have on young White Sox players?

“Jose?” Eloy Jimenez said after Sunday’s game, a game in which both he and Abreu launched homers off the Crosstown-rival Cubs. “For me, it’s been like a father. He gives me advice, he always tries to help me. And when you find people like that, you don’t know how to explain how great of people they are.”

White Sox fans have heard time and time again that Abreu means so much to this team in the clubhouse. But they might not know why. With Abreu at his third career All-Star Game — with two teammates joining him this time — it was a good opportunity to find out exactly what Abreu means to these White Sox.

Abreu’s a 32-year-old slugger with a career-low on-base percentage heading for free agency this offseason. That’s getting the negatives out of the way, because there are far more positives. In this same season that’s seen his averages dip, his power numbers have kept him All-Star worthy. He ended the first half with 21 homers (sixth in the American League) and 66 RBIs (second, by one, in the AL), on pace to set career highs in both categories.

But the production has always been a given with Abreu since he came over from Cuba ahead of the 2014 season. It’s the off-the-field stuff that has made him truly invaluable to the White Sox as they’ve moved through a rebuild.

As Jimenez’s words made clear, Abreu’s had a remarkable impact on the young Latin players, specifically Jimenez and Yoan Moncada, who have reached the South Side as superstars of the future. According to his All-Star teammates, Abreu’s impact spreads past the two lockers closest to him in the home clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“The impact that I don’t think he really knows that he has is how hard of a worker he is,” James McCann said Monday. “He’s a superstar. He’s a three-time All Star, he puts up unreal numbers, he’s setting organizational records. But you wouldn’t know that based on the way that he acts, the way that he goes about his business, the way that he works. He’s the first one in the cage, he’s in the weight room every day, he leads by example.

“So for me, the impact that he has is when a young kid shows up there and thinks he’s made it and then looks at this guy over here who’s busting his tail day in and day out. That’s only a good thing. It helps the culture. It helps the clubhouse realize, ‘Hey, we’ve still got to work.’”

General manager Rick Hahn called Abreu a model player last week, a further hint that Abreu, despite his age and the expected decrease in production that comes with it, is part of the White Sox long-term plans. But it’s what he does inside that clubhouse that seems to make his staying in a White Sox uniform beyond the end of the 2019 season a near necessity.

“Jose, not only what he does for our team numbers-wise — he hits a bunch of homers, RBI machine — but he’s like an amazing bridge that kind of goes beyond just the baseball side of it,” Lucas Giolito said. “Yoan Moncada comes over from the Red Sox and doesn’t really know anyone. ... He’s a Latin player, doesn’t speak much English yet. Jose’s always there, taking care of those guys.

“He can make everyone feel at home because he’s been around the organization for a long, long time. He’s super positive. … I’ve never seen him get like super mad or overthink anything. He keeps it very, very simple. And I think that’s very good for our team, especially being a veteran, such a good player offensively at first base. He’s a huge part of our team.”

Abreu has made no secret about the fact that he wants to be with the White Sox moving forward. He’s never played on a winning team during his big league career, but he loves the White Sox and loves his teammates. As the skies brighten on the South Side thanks to a first half of the season filled with bright spots, Moncada and Jimenez among them, few have been happier about the change in fortunes that sits on the horizon as Abreu.

After blasting a walk-off home run to sweep last Wednesday’s doubleheader — the same doubleheader in which the future arrived in the form of Dylan Cease’s major league debut — Abreu unleashed his latest declaration that he wants to stay with these White Sox.

Well, at least it was his latest before Monday in Cleveland.

“It has been incredible, because we have been able to prove to those people that maybe didn’t believe in us that we’re going to be good,” Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “And we’re showing them that we are right where we need to be and that we’re going to get better.

“It’s good when you see that all the sacrifices you have been through are paying off. For us, it’s a very exciting moment, and the future is going to be very, very good for us.

“I think my desire to stay with this team is getting bigger every day, after every game. We are good, and we’re going to be very, very good. For me, there’s no secret. I want to be here.

“This is the team that gave me the chance to play in the majors, that made my mom’s dream come true. I’m ready. We’re working for that, and we’re just waiting for when that moment comes.”

And so with the White Sox continuing to rave about Abreu and Abreu continuing to rave about the White Sox, all signs continue to point to Abreu sticking around for the foreseeable future, for the good times he’s long been told have been coming. Abreu’s such a leader for this group, that it’s difficult to envision those good times coming without him.

With the 2019 performances of Giolito, McCann, Jimenez, Moncada, Cease, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal, not to mention the return of a healthy Michael Kopech, the 2020 season seems to be the one in which the White Sox could open their contention window.

Ask Abreu about that, and he’ll smile — while giving the most Abreu answer imaginable.

“We’re just going to keep working.”

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.