White Sox

David Robertson doing all he can to push trade rumors out of his mind

David Robertson doing all he can to push trade rumors out of his mind

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The reality of his situation isn’t all that pleasant, so David Robertson is doing his best to solely focus on baseball.

Second only to Jose Quintana in the team rumor mill, the White Sox closer said Tuesday morning that the uncertainty surrounding the team’s rebuild hasn’t been easy. Even though spring training has already begun, Robertson, who primarily has been the focus of trade talks with the Washington Nationals, said he realizes anything can happen. So for now Robertson -- who went 5-3 with 37 saves in 44 tries and a 3.47 ERA in 62 games -- wants to keep his attention on preparation for the World Baseball Classic and then on the regular season, wherever he may be.

“It's tough because there's nothing I can really do,” Robertson said. “I can't control anything about it so I just try to put it in the back of my mind. Just come to the field and do the work I need to do and whatever decisions this organization makes is what they're going to do. I only have a choice, I'll end up doing what I want to do, play baseball.”

The rumors of Robertson to Washington haven’t slowed down at all. Earlier this week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said dialogue between the two teams has continued up until the edge of spring camp only to have their most recent talks stall again. But the two potential trade partners have held intermittent discussions dating back to December when there was discussion of including Robertson in the trade that sent Adam Eaton east.

Dealing with constantly hearing his name in rumors can’t be easy and both general manager Rick Hahn and manager Rick Renteria understand the human element involved. While Renteria said Tuesday he hasn’t addressed the topic individually with players, he won’t hesitate to if it’s necessary. Renteria addressed his team for the first time before Tuesday’s workout and stressed that his door is open at all times.

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“We’re certainly open to talking about it, personal or otherwise,” Renteria said. “Those are things that for all these guys, they’re professionals. I think right now they’re more focused on getting ready to perform.”

Hahn agrees with Renteria -- being at camp is probably the best distraction. Robertson has another diversion as well as he’s one of four White Sox pitchers participating in the World Baseball Classic, which runs from March 6-22.

“When they are here, they can focus more on doing their job,” Hahn said. “Regardless of the uniform they are wearing, they know how to prepare for a season.

“They are able to a little more easily block out a little more of the outside distractions when they are hear getting ready for their profession. I don’t foresee that being an issue at all.”

It wasn’t until Sale was traded to the Boston Red Sox that Robertson received clarity on which direction the White Sox were headed this winter. Given how the team attempted to piece together its roster in his first two seasons, Robertson half expected more additions and another try in 2017. But all the uncertainty was cast aside at the point Sale was traded.

“I didn't know which direction the organization was going to take but obviously, they kind of set the table by making those trades,” Robertson said. “They're looking to rebuild so either I'm going to be a part of it or I'm going to be a piece that gets moved.”

Robertson, who has two years and $25 million left on his current contract, is excited to pitch for Team USA. The right-hander, who had surgery to clean up a meniscus tear in the offseason, said he’s ahead of his normal throwing schedule. When he returns from that, Robertson can then focus on the regular season.

“What else can I do?” Robertson said. “I'm here to play baseball. I'm going to continue to work on getting better and let the cards fall where they're going to be. I can't do anything about it. I'm just going to try my best to stay here. If I stay here, great. If I get moved, it's their decision.”

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.