White Sox

USWNT's Tobin Heath: 'I feel a great freedom out on the pitch'

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USWNT's Tobin Heath: 'I feel a great freedom out on the pitch'

As the U.S. women's national team inches closer toward this summer's World Cup in Canada, Jill Ellis' side is reeling from Sunday's penultimate send-off match, an impressive performance that generated a decisive 5-1 victory over Mexico.

With the result already placed beyond doubt, midfielder Tobin Heath's nifty footwork to fool El Tri defender Kenti Robles before assisting on Abby Wambach's second goal and the U.S.' fifth put the cherry on top of the cake.

On Monday, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and former North Carolina Tar Heel spoke with CSN about it, her partnership with Glukos and more.   

Q: More countries seem to be gaining ground and figuring out how to compete with the top nations. How much more of a challenge is it now for the USWNT to match that in the women's game?

A: It's great for the women's game right now. The evolution is crazy nowadays. There's so many countries that can compete; there's not just those top three. That's what's really exciting about this World Cup. The competitiveness is enormous. For us as a national team, we've had to continue to evolve as well to be able to stay at the top. That goes into our preparation and everything else that we're doing. Fortunately for us, we've got a great squad. We've got an awesome game plan, we have a tactical awareness; we know what we're supposed to be doing and how we're supposed to be playing, and we have extreme depth in talent to be able to execute what we're supposed to.

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Q: Head coach Jill Ellis has been in and around the national team fold for a while. How would you describe your/the team's relationship with her and how much does that familiarity factor in to possibly helping guide this team to a third World Cup title?

A: Jill is our leader and we're all very comfortable with her. She has a clear game plan, and she does a great job in allowing us to be ourselves on the pitch and vocalizing the things that she wants in the way that she wants us to be playing. In that way, everybody has a good relationship with her and she knows us very well because she's been around the team for a while. Now she's able to implement the way that she sees us being successful.

Q: You pulled off the elástico, more commonly known as the flip-flap move in English, to set up Abby Wambach for the fifth goal in Sunday's 5-1 win over Mexico. Does that epitomize your playing style and that creativity you try to implement on the field?

A: I feel a great freedom out on the pitch. I like playing a certain style and a certain way, and you want it to be effective as well. That move was great last night because we got a goal out of it, which is the most important part - to contribute to the team's success. I love being out on the field; I love playing for this team. It's a joy and it's also fun because we're good and we want to win, so that always makes playing a lot more fun.

Q: Can you describe the new partnership you have with Glukos and how it tailors to you as a professional athlete?

A: Nowadays, there's such a fine line in performance for professional athletes, and we're always trying to get one or two percent better in everything that we do. I'm excited about GLUKOS because it's a product that allows me to do that as a professional athlete. It has no additives, it's all-natural, it's based on glucose - which is the good sugar - which is fantastic. It's a product that, as an athlete, you want to put into your body. We're always very conscious about what we're putting into our bodies, and, for me, this is one that I feel great about and makes me feel great.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.