White Sox

10 questions with James McCann, White Sox catcher

NBC Sports Chicago

10 questions with James McCann, White Sox catcher

We've asking your favorite Chicago athletes 10 questions about what they're doing during the COVID-19 related stay at home orders.

This week we have Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann on the hot seat.

Chuck Garfien: Our first question is who are you hunkered down with and where are you?

James McCann: Alright, I am with my family, my wife Jessica and our twin boys Christian and Kane. And we are at our home in Franklin Tennessee.

CG: And if you had to be locked inside with one of your White Sox teammates who would it be?

JM: One of my White Sox teammates who would it be? I guess I’d have to go with probably Dallas Keuchel just because we go back so far.

CG: Ok. That’s the only reason? Any other reason why? Is he a good guy? I mean can you…

JM: Yeah he’s a.. I mean he obviously he’s an enjoyable person to be around. He’s got a good sense of humor and we just have history going back to college together. We have a lot of stories that we can reminisce on. So that would be why I would go with him.

CG: So what White Sox teammate have you stayed in contact with the most? If there is one that stands out.

JM: Probably Giolito and I guess Cease a little bit and Steve Cishek. I’ve kept in touch with him pretty much on a regular basis.

CG: So how are you staying in shape? Obviously you don’t have the facility there like you have in Arizona. And what kind of workouts are you doing?  

JM: So I’m, all the facilities are shut down here as well. So I'm lucky Ben Zobrist has a barn with a cage in it. So I get to go there and there’s a machine that has a feeder, it feeds itself, so I can do you know all my catching stuff, all my hitting stuff off the machine and I can go you know by myself. I don’t necessarily need someone with me. Then I’m mixing in workouts where I can. In the garage, you know makeshift workouts to you know little makeshift workouts in the barn with whatever I can find to use.

CG: How did that come about? Did you know about the barn or did you reach out to Ben? Did he find you?

JM: Yeah so Ben and I worked out together before he retired here just south of Nashville and he had always had the cage available to any guy that wanted to use it. And so and I saw that the facilities were shutting down, he was the first person I reached out to to make sure his cage was still hanging in the barn despite the fact that he was retired.

CG: Alright so have you attempted to learn a new hobby? I know you have two small kids, you gotta work on your baseball but you have some free time. Maybe you don’t. What have you been working on? Anything?

JM: Not not really. Just, we’ve actually tackled a few projects around the house that we haven't been able to in the offseason. Just our offseason gets to be so so busy between the holidays and training and taking care of other stuff. We’ve done some kind of spring cleaning type things around the house that kind of gets pushed to the side in the offseason. So if I had to say a hobby it’d be cleaning and organizing and taking care of things around the house.

CG:  Alright so what is your most treasured career keepsake that you keep in your house?

JM: My most treasured career keepsake. Well, I kind of got like a place for a memorabilia room but I haven’t gotten around to putting everything up. So I have, I mean I have all sorts of stuff. I have first career hit, first career homer, the lineup card from my first career game, from the first game I hit a homer in. I have a ton of signed balls and bats. I think the one that sticks out to me right now because it’s fresh in my mind is an Al Kaline signed jersey. You know there’s, I actually have several things signed by him that mean a bunch to me. He was a phenomenal person just being around him in the Detroit organization and the friendship that we ended up having. You know I’ve got a picture of us walking down the tunnel in Comerica Park with his arm around me. He signed it and wrote a note to me. So that’s a special keepsake. But what really sticks out to me is, I have two signed jerseys that he signed. One he made out to my son Christian, one he made out to my son Kane. And I had him do that because the morning that they were born, within you know them being born ten weeks early, within hours of them being born. He texted me to tell me that he had been praying for them all morning long. So you know, for them, they’ll never really know who Al Kaline was other than the stories that I tell them and what they watch. But having a hall of famer text their dad saying hey I’ve been praying for you this morning. I think that’s pretty special to me, I’ll remember that.

CG: Yeah, Al Kaline was a legend. He’ll always be considered a legend in Detroit. A titan for that organization. For anyone who played for them, like yourself, who got to meet him, what kind of guy was he?

JM: He was a better human being than he was a baseball player. And you know I was never privileged enough to see him play. I’ve seen you know highlights and pictures and stuff like that. I’ve heard stories. But just being around him and the human being he was. I can only imagine you know what kind of ball player he was when you hear the stories. He was, he was a phenomenal person. You know a guy who didn't have to go out of his way to do anything, he was Al Kaline, he was the greatest Tiger to ever be. He would seek out individual players, individual people, from you know the perennial all-star all the way down to the janitor. He knew everybody by name, everybody’s job title and he knew you know their spouse, their kids and he was very involved. He was a very humble and generous man.

CG: Anything you have, actually that you left back in your office. Meaning back in Glendale wish you had with you right now. Or did you take everything with you?

JM: I took everything that I needed with me. I mean I got extra bats, I’ve got my.. I left my game glove there, I took the two gloves I was breaking in, I brought them home. So I mean if I needed something it’d probably be my game glove but I left that there because it’s ready to roll whenever we do pick up.

CG: Ok, so do you have a go to quarantine meal? What’s number one right now?

JM: Anything on my Traeger grill. We've been, we’ve been really blessed with good weather here so I mean it’s literally been almost every night we’ve done something on the grill. From chicken, to ribs, to steak, to, we did baked potatoes on the grill the other night. We’ve just kind of been trying all sorts of things since we’re stuck in.

CG: Have you got any movies or tv shows or classic games that you’ve been enjoying during this time?

JM: Well we bought into the Tiger Kind hype and we watched that. We’ve kind of, there’s a show that we watch, we’ve been watching for years called the Blacklist we’ve been keeping up with that comes out on Friday nights. And then we’re watching some movies. My wife isn’t a huge movie person. So there’s a ton of movies. like classic movies, that I’ll bring up and she’ll have no idea what I’m talking about so we’re trying to catch up on some of the classics. Movies like Gladiator and you know The Patriot and stuff like that that’s not not necessarily a go to movie for a bunch of people but it’s classics that you have to see at least once.

CG: Alright do you have any favorite podcasts or social media follows during this time?

JM: Oh man. The only, the only podcast that I’ve really gotten into ever actually is call Order of Man. And it’s a gentleman who talks about what it takes to be a man. And he sheds a lot of light on being a father and you know helping you children, specifically your sons growing into the men that you want them to be. So that’s, when I get to a Podcast that’s the one that I’ve been, I’ve been going to. Social media, I just, I’ve been, I’ve been enjoying keeping up with teammates, and you know other guys around the league. The different challenges that have been going on from you know walk up song challenge to pose for a home run. Just different things like that that’s obviously bring guys and fans alike you know joy and getting to see different highlights and things like that.

CG: And do you have any toilet paper to spare?

JM: So we do have some toilet paper to spare. Thankfully before we left home for spring training we had just bought a big roll of toilet paper. So we had some extras and then my wife Jessica got up early one morning and went and stood in line at Costco just to get you know essential things and toilet paper happened to be one of things she came across. But she called me from line, she was out in the parking lot, you know social distancing, you know everything going on she’s like it’s crazier than Black Friday out here. Trying to fight these shoppers to get you know what you need.

More 10 questions:

- White Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel sits down with our own Chuck Garfien
- Chicago Bears punter Pat O'Donnell sits down with Laurence Holmes
- Chicago native and comedian Sebastian Maniscalco

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MLB The Show: White Sox take down Blue Jays behind Dallas Keuchel

MLB The Show: White Sox take down Blue Jays behind Dallas Keuchel

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Blue Jays 7-1
Record: 51-36 this season, first in AL Central (3 games ahead of Twins)

W: Dallas Keuchel (5-5)
L: Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4)

Game summary: The South Siders continued their three-game set vs the Blue Jays north of the border on Wednesday. And just like Canadian summers, their bats took a little longer than normal to warm up in this game.

Fortunately for the White Sox, they didn’t need a lot of runs early as Dallas Keuchel had his entire repertoire working. The veteran lefty, a frequent sore spot in the rotation this season, went eight innings while allowing just one run and striking out five batters. Sporting an ERA above 7 at times this year, Keuchel is now sitting at 5.90.

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After just scoring just two runs through the first seven frames, the White Sox offense broke out in the eighth. Tim Anderson emerged from his power slump in a big way, hitting a three-run bomb to left. Then, Nomar Mazara also went deep, slugging his 17th homer of the season.

The White Sox winning streak is now at three games, the same total they lead the AL Central by as All-Star weekend approaches.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-4 (.311 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, 2B (.251 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-5, HR (23), RBI, R (.278 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-3, 2 BB, R (.309 BA)
Jose Abreu: 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R (.311 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5, HR (15), 3 RBI, R (.275 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-5, R (.256 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-3 (.283 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 2-4, HR (17), 2 RBI, R (.257 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first

Yoan Moncada homered to left field. 1-0 CHW.

Top fourth

Nomar Mazara singled to left field, Luis Robert scored. 2-0 CHW.

Bottom fifth

Bo Bichette homered to left field. 2-1 CHW.

Top eighth

Tim Anderson homered to left field, Yasmani Grandal and Jose Abreu scored. 5-1 CHW.
Mazara homered to right field. 6-1 CHW.

Top ninth

Anderson reached on throwing error, Abreu scored. 7-1 CHW.

Notable performance: Mazara is the human embodiment of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Despite being in the nine-hole, Mazara has hit 16 homers and is ninh in the AL with 63 RBIs. There's no reason to move him elsewhere in the lineup.

Next game: Thursday, July 2 - Game 88: White Sox at Blue Jays (Dylan Cease, 4-4, 5.40 ERA vs Ryan Borucki, 6-4, 5.11 ERA)


Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

Yoan Moncada: White Sox still on track for success in 2020, even after layoff

It's been a bit of a deflating experience for White Sox fans over the past few months. They were ready for their team to finally ascend into the realm of baseball's contenders, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to put those plans on hold.

The most anticipated season of White Sox baseball in years wasn't happening.

Well, it's kind of happening now, albeit in a squeezed-down, 60-game version that has some fans already bemoaning the 2020 campaign's illegitimacy before it starts.

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But White Sox fans who had the wind taken out of their sails shouldn't be so down in the dumps. Even after a three-month layoff and staring at a two-month sprint to the postseason, the White Sox seem to be in as good a position as they were back in March to make their jump out of rebuilding mode and into contending mode.

Though so much has changed in baseball and around the world in the last few months, that one aspect of the White Sox outlook for the 2020 season has not, according to one of the team's best players.

"I think that each one of us has been working out, has been doing what they are supposed to be doing in order to get ready for the season," Yoan Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. "If that's the case, and I truly believe that’s the case, we are going to be ready, when the season starts, to compete right away. I think there’s not going to be any major difference."

Indeed, there's reason to believe that the White Sox are positioned quite well to compete for an AL Central title and reach the postseason, much like there was back in March. The young core of Moncada, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito were excellent in 2019, especially toward the end of the season. The front office added numerous impact veterans with winning experience during the offseason. And Luis Robert is a much-hyped prospect who could provide a huge boost to the lineup right away.

And the layoff has even allowed for some improvements to the roster, at least on paper, with a pitching staff deepened by the potential full-season additions of recovered arms Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning.

While the White Sox have their fair share of questions — look to that same pitching staff, where it's unknown what kind of results the team will get from Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez — they could wind up the most balanced of the three non-rebuilding teams in the Central. The defending-champion Minnesota Twins have a powerful lineup that now includes perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson, but their pitching staff past ace Jose Berrios needs to prove its dependability. The Cleveland Indians, on the other hand, have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, but their lineup is top heavy with major questions past Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

Moncada is of the mindset that to be the champs, you've got to beat the champs.

"I see ourselves in a very good position to compete in this division," he said. "I think that the team to beat is the Minnesota Twins. But I think we have a very good team to compete against them."

RELATED: White Sox not adjusting high hopes for 2020: 'I'm still extremely optimistic'

The third baseman doesn't seem to be alone in his thinking that the White Sox are still in a good position to reach the high expectations they put on themselves during the spring, when everyone at Camelback Ranch was talking about snapping the franchise's more than decade-long playoff drought. Team brass was sticking to those high hopes last week.

“I’m still extremely optimistic,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We come in with the same mindset, to build on what we were building when we were cut off in the spring. And I continue to be optimistic about how positively we can roll forward.”

Obviously this is a season unlike any other, and no one truly knows what will happen when the games start being played — including how many of those games the COVID-19 pandemic will allow Major League Baseball to complete. A fast start will be important to the White Sox and every other team looking to sprint to the regular season's finish line.

Some more good news, at least for Moncada? This is a season in which he doesn't have to worry about battling Chicago's frigid April and May conditions.

"I don't like cold weather," he said. "I think starting the season in this kind of weather is going to be an advantage for all of us. I think we're going to feel much more comfortable, and for me, I think I'm going to feel like I'm playing in Cuba because this is the kind of weather we're used to in Cuba. It's going to be comfortable for us."

White Sox fans have reason to believe they could be very comfortable with their team's fortunes, even after a three-month layoff.