White Sox

Andrew Vaughn, Yermín Mercedes 'ready to go' for White Sox if needed

Andrew Vaughn, Yermín Mercedes 'ready to go' for White Sox if needed

When we last left Yermín Mercedes in Arizona before the COVID-19 pandemic shut baseball down, he was busy retweeting his own spring training highlights and commenting, “See you soon, Chicago.”

It turns out, he wasn’t wrong.

“I'm right here, Chicago,” Mercedes said on a Zoom call from Guaranteed Rate Field Monday.

Now the question is, will he stay in Chicago or head to Schaumburg? Back in the spring, the 27-year-old catcher had eight hits and four home runs in 21 Cactus League at-bats, putting him in position to potentially break camp with the White Sox as the 26th man. Now, with rosters increased to 30 at the start of the regular season, Mercedes’ chances of getting his first Major League action are even greater.

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“We went back home. Just kept working hard at home, just waiting for the opportunity,” Mercedes said.

The opportunity is even greater now and Mercedes is getting a chance to see if he can play more than just catcher. With Yasmani Grandal and James McCann clearly ahead of him on the depth chart, Mercedes has played third base and left in the team’s intrasquad games. The results have been mixed and included two throwing errors at third base in Monday’s game.

“I'm comfortable there if they need me, third, left. I'm here. I just want to do my job and help the team do the best,” he said.

Mercedes is one option to help the White Sox in this 60-game sprint. Andrew Vaughn is another. Neither player has any Major League experience, but both have bats that could be Major League ready. Trying to figure out where to play them is the challenge.

“I definitely feel comfortable moving around,” Vaughn said. “Growing up, I played short, I played second, I played third, played a little outfield and pitched, so moving around the field, it's not too new to me and I'm excited for the challenge. What the guys want me to do, I'm all for it.”

Vaughn has worked out at third base too, as the White Sox want to increase his versatility. Primarily a first baseman, he has looked good scooping short hops in intrasquad games, but he’s firmly behind Jose Abreu at the position.

Still, the absence of third baseman Yoan Moncada – currently on the 10-day disabled list – is a stark reminder that a player can be lost to a positive COVID-19 test at any given time. Depth and versatility are key. If Mercedes and Vaughn can provide Major League at-bats, the White Sox need to figure out where they can be put on the field, if necessary.

Realistically, Mercedes’ chances of being on the Opening Day roster are better. He’s a Rule 5 draftee who has been with three organizations at this point in his career. Vaughn was the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and only has 245 professional plate appearances to his name. The shortened season may lead to odd baseball occurrences, but it would be quite a jump for Vaughn, who ended last season at the High-A minor league level. On the other hand, he’s currently getting a crash course in Major League pitching in Summer Camp.

“I think the biggest thing is mindset. Just having the drive to know we're going play and just being ready at the right time,” Vaughn said. “This camp has been phenomenal. I feel like getting here, getting to work around the field, getting to hit, and getting to play with the guys on the big-league club is definitely beneficial for me and everybody else out here.”

Development will still be priority No. 1 for Vaughn, who is a big part of the White Sox’s future. But with no minor league season to rely on, general manager Rick Hahn and the scouting staff will have to ask themselves if it's more beneficial for Vaughn to go to Schaumburg for intrasquad games or stick around the Major League club?

“If (Hahn) said I was (on the 30-man roster), I'd be extremely pumped up and ready to go -- trying to help the team out,” Vaughn said.

White Sox fans would be excited too. And the same goes for Mercedes, who has become somewhat of a folk hero as an underdog with an energetic and gregarious personality.

“I love the fans. I know the Chicago fans love me. They want me to play here in Chicago,” Mercedes said. “The only thing I want to say is, we just need to wait. Wait for the team. Wait for everybody. When they give me the opportunity, I promise I want to do the best for me, for my fans.”

That wait might not be too long. Opening Day is only 11 days away.

 

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Ozzie Guillen rips Nick Swisher again while telling story from 2008

Ozzie Guillen rips Nick Swisher again while telling story from 2008

Ozzie Guillen isn’t done ragging on Nick Swisher. Guillen took another shot at the former White Sox outfielder while telling a story on White Sox Postgame Live Tuesday night.

When giving an example of why he loves Juan Uribe so much, Guillen decided to tell a story of an interaction between Swisher and Uribe on “Nick Swisher bobblehead night” at U.S. Cellular Field.

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“(Swisher) comes to Uribe and says, ‘Hey Juan, look at what I got!’” Guillen said while pretending to hold a bobblehead. “And Juan said, ‘Ya, you seen outside? I’ve got a statue. I’ve got it hitting, catching the ball when we won the World Series. You don’t.’ How about that one?”

Uribe was critical in the White Sox World Series championship, including recording the final two outs of Game 4. One of those outs-- his grab made while falling into the stands-- is the catch that has been enshrined outside Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nick Swisher only played one season in Chicago, and slashed .219/.332/.410 with a -1.4 dWAR.

Apparently that one season made quite the impression on Guillen, as he declared last week, “I hate Nick Swisher with my heart.”


RELATED: White Sox hitters rough up Carson Fulmer in first game against former team

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Day after Keuchel calls out team, White Sox offense erupts in win over Tigers

Day after Keuchel calls out team, White Sox offense erupts in win over Tigers

Whatever Dallas Keuchel said after Monday night’s uninspiring loss to the Tigers really worked. Or maybe the return of Tim Anderson and Edwin Encarnacion to the lineup gave the Sox the spark they needed? Or maybe it was a little bit of both?

Whatever the reason, the White Sox offense finally broke out of its collective slump in Tuesday’s 8-4 win against Detroit.

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Leading the charge was Eloy Jiménez, who busted out of a slump of his own by going 2-4 with a homer and four RBI. He had previously been 1-23 dating back to Aug. 5, and used a simple approach to break through.

“I was in a slump, and I feel like I was seeing the ball good, but I wasn’t hitting it to the right spot,” Jiménez said through interpreter Billy Russo. “(I was) swinging at some balls a little bit out of the zone. Now I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it where there’s no people.”

That’s always a good idea.

But when asked for his thoughts on Jiménez’s day, Rick Renteria provided a bit more of a nuanced assessment.

“Consistency, there’s no secret to it,” Renteria said. “Solid approaches working both lefties and righties… faced some righties today and was able to stay in on them. The two-strike ball down the right field line to tack on another run, I mean he had some really good at-bats today.”

Zooming back out, this is the type of offensive output the White Sox envisioned when they built this team last winter. Tim Anderson setting the table, Jiménez and Encarnacion hitting bombs, and Abreu and Moncada driving in more runs with timely hitting.

“The entire lineup looked great,” said starter Gio Gonzalez. “Everyone looked aggressive going out there. Plays were being made around the horn, guys were doing their job hitting the ball, moving runners over. It just looked like a White Sox win today.”

“Today we felt really good,” Jiménez said. “We took care of business and you see what happened.”

RELATED: White Sox hitters rough up Carson Fulmer in first game against former team

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