White Sox

Cole Hamels says White Sox have reached out, talks about what he could bring to South Side

Cole Hamels says White Sox have reached out, talks about what he could bring to South Side

Rick Hahn doesn't like to discuss his team's pursuits of specific free-agent players.

But what happens when one of those players is a little more revealing than the general manager?

Free-agent starting pitcher Cole Hamels told Our Chuck Garfien on the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast that the South Siders have been in contact and are interested in talking with Hamels about a potential signing — though it might have to wait until after some other business gets done.

"They have reached out," Hamels said. "That was great to be able to hear. I know with the few guys that they've signed, I think that was kind of their focus. When they did talk to my agent, it was, 'Hey, we're putting something together. We have a few guys that we want to try to get first,' which I think that's what they've been doing, 'but we really have some good interest and would like to talk further down the line.' And I think that's always really good to see.

"And then you see that they're actually making moves, and that's when you pay attention a little bit more, just because you have to see where you might actually fit into the situation."

Hamels' description meshes with what the White Sox have done and are rumored to be doing. They made signing free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal a top offseason priority and crossed that off their to-do list by giving him the richest contract in team history. They guaranteed Jose Abreu will wear a White Sox uniform for another three seasons with a contract extension. And they are rumored to be in hot pursuit of free-agent starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, one of the biggest names in that portion of the market.

Bringing Hamels aboard would also go right along with what Hahn has been talking about while discussing his front office's offseason plans. The White Sox are in search of a pair of arms to add to the starting rotation. Wheeler or someone like him would slot in next to Lucas Giolito at the top of that starting staff. Hamels could be a perfect option to put elsewhere in the rotation, provide some depth and install as a mentor to the rest of a young staff that features Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez.

Hamels would bring not only a veteran presence but a winning history. He was the World Series MVP when the Philadelphia Phillies won it all in 2008.

"I was the same as them," Hamels said. "And I was lucky enough to get Jamie Moyer to come right over. And all of a sudden I had Pedro Martinez and Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and (Roy) Oswalt. I had those guys to learn from. I had some of the best in the game to learn from, to teach me how to minimize mistakes, how to, really, when you're in the pressed, most difficult situation, how to get out of it, limit damage. Because sometimes you're just flying by the seat of your pants and you don't recognize what you're doing so you can remember to not repeat it. So that's what a good veteran does.

"And I was able to watch, and I feel like that's what I've been able to now actually apply. And that's how you teach the young guys is how to minimize, damage control.

"That's what you have to teach the young pitchers. I think Grandal will probably help with that, too. But you have to be able to have that in the dugout all the time while the game's going on."

It sounds like there will be competition for Hamels' services, the four-time All Star saying that more than half the teams in baseball have reached out and expressed some level of interest.

But the words of Hahn and super-agent Scott Boras might be ringing true. Hahn has long said he feels players can see what the White Sox are building and want to be a part of it. Boras said last month at the GM meetings that players are looking at the White Sox much differently than they have in years past. Hamels raved about what the White Sox can be in the future and talked about how attractive it is to be a part of a team ready to make a jump into contention.

"They're a team that's making some serious strides," he said. "I've pitched against them the past couple years, and you can see the young talent that they have and now how they're actually learning the game and how they're playing well together. At first, I was beating them a lot, and then the past couple seasons they really came out hard and they beat up on me. It's good to see.

"I love the city of Chicago, had a blast being there for about a year and a half (with the Cubs). It's one of my favorite cities to travel to, and to actually be there in the summertime and for a season, I loved it. The fan base there, from both sides (of town), for both teams, is absolutely amazing.

"Just to know that you can actually make a difference and seeing that you could be on a team that's trying to go for those winning ways, that's all I really ask for. I just want the opportunity."

Hamels might not be the same pitcher who finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting four times during his 10-year tenure in Philadelphia, but he was quite good on the North Side the last season and a half, posting a 3.30 ERA and striking out 217 batters in 39 starts for the Cubs. That kind of production would certainly aid the White Sox in their quest to transition from rebuilders to contenders.

Giolito said at season's end that White Sox players' goal will be to make the postseason in 2020, going as far to say that "if we don’t, then I don’t think we’ve come close to what we should be doing." Already the White Sox have helped in that goal, by adding Grandal and bringing Abreu back. They seem intent on that being just the beginning of their offseason.

Hamels could be part of that. It sounds like he wants to be, at least.

"When I was with the Phillies, I came up at just the right time where all those guys in the lineup had been there a few years and had just gotten beat down. But they never lost their confidence and they finally felt like it was their time, and they believed it and they went out and proved it," he said. "And I was able to go out and do my thing and build off their success, which instilled a lot of confidence in me.

"I think that's where it is in (the White Sox) lineup. They're finally feeling ready, they're now ready to take care of business, and everybody will be able to feed off that. And that's the fun part of how you build a team and see what the guys can really do and how they can prove it to themselves.

"As players, we start to see that and sense that from teams, and those are the teams you want to go jump on board with."

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: A.J. Pierzynski's most powerful month on the South Side


White Sox 2005 Rewind: A.J. Pierzynski's most powerful month on the South Side

May 2005 was A.J. Pierzynski’s most powerful month in his eight years in a White Sox uniform.

Like plenty of other hitters dealing with the suboptimal hitting conditions of April — including teammates Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye — Pierzynski had a slowish start in the first month with his new team. A .269 average and a .329 on-base percentage hardly counts as an awful stretch, but Pierzynski had just one home run and only two RBIs in his first 19 games of the season.

That turned around in a hurry, and it started May 4 against the Kansas City Royals.

Pierzynski launched a two-run homer as part of a two-out rally in the fourth inning, the blast proving to be the difference in a 4-2 White Sox win.

Math aficionados will know that was just his second homer and third and fourth RBIs. But by the end of May, Pierzynski had eight home runs and 19 RBIs.

What changed? He unleashed the thunder in his bat, hitting seven homers while posting a .557 slugging percentage and a .903 OPS. All those numbers rank among the best in a single month of Pierzynski’s White Sox career.

The seven homers are the most Pierzynski ever hit in a month with the White Sox. The .557 slugging percentage was topped just three more times and not again until August 2011. Same goes for the .903 OPS, which was bested just twice.

So it’s not to say that Pierzynski’s offensive success in May 2005 was a rarity, as he was a good hitting catcher throughout his South Side tenure. But the specific power numbers were rarely seen again, certainly not over the following five seasons. So in a way, this was power from an unexpected source, and it helped the White Sox play eight games above .500 during the month.

As #SoxRewind continues moving through that month of May, we’ll see more explosive hitting from Pierzynski. The home runs came in a concentrated bunch from there, with the catcher homering in four straight games from May 14 through May 18.

But this one from May 4 was the very first, a helpful launch for Pierzynski to bust out of his early season power slump and the beginning of the most powerful month of his White Sox career.

What else?

— It’s hard to imagine that in the year they won the World Series, Hawk Harrelson wasn’t behind the mic for every inning. But this one featured the broadcasting team of Darrin Jackson and Donn Pall while Harrelson was recovering from corrective eye surgery. The man they called “The Pope” had a pretty nice career pitching for his hometown team, posting a 3.45 ERA in 394.1 innings out of the bullpen.

— Jermaine Dye hit one of his two triples of 2005 in this one. He sent a deep fly ball to the warning track in right field, and while Matt Stairs made an admirable effort, the ball bounced off his glove and rolled away, allowing Dye to make it all the way to third. He had to wait four months for the next one, tripling off Jarrod Washburn, the pitcher the White Sox faced in Game 2 of the ALCS that postseason, in an early September game against the Los Angeles Angels.

— Mike Sweeney was a notorious “White Sox killer” during his lengthy and productive career with the Royals. He drove in both Kansas City runs in this game. His numbers in 2005 were downright ridiculous in his 15 games against the South Siders: .362/.426/.759 with five homers, eight doubles, eight walks, 10 runs scored and 15 RBIs.

— Cliff Politte did an excellent job putting out Freddy Garcia’s fire in the top of the seventh inning. Garcia pitched another strong game, but he departed after loading the bases on a pair of walks and a base hit in the seventh. Politte entered with the bases juiced and only one out against the aforementioned “Sox killer” Sweeney. He got Sweeney to fly out, driving in one run, but ended the inning four pitches later with a strikeout of Ken Harvey. That sacrifice fly was the last of the scoring, as Damaso Marte and Dustin Hermanson finished off the Royals in another great job by the White Sox bullpen.

— I wrote about Jon Garland’s remarkable start to the 2005 season Friday. But Garcia strung together some sterling efforts, as well, in these early weeks of the campaign. With 6.1 innings of two-run ball in this game, he turned in a third straight strong outing. In those three starts, he allowed just five earned runs in 20.1 innings (a 2.21 ERA). He had a few more stretches that stacked up to this one during the season, but not many that were better.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

May 3, 2005: The Royals broke a 2-all tie with a pair of solo homers off Mark Buehrle in the top of the sixth. The White Sox clawed back, with an Aaron Rowand homer halving the deficit and a two-run double by Carl Everett in the eighth delivering the tying and winning runs. White Sox win, 5-4, improve to 19-7.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Sunday, when you can catch the May 5, 2005, game against the Royals, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Buckle up, this is a wacky one.

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White Sox vs. Red Sox simulation on MLB The Show 20 (Game 8)

White Sox vs. Red Sox simulation on MLB The Show 20 (Game 8)

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. In our simulation, the Southsiders started 3-3, dropping a series vs. the Royals and winning a series vs. the Indians. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

After an unusual Friday off day, the White Sox bats continued to stay on fire against the Red Sox on a sun soaked day at Fenway Park.

Jose Abreu gave the South Siders an early lead with a solo shot off Brian Johnson in the first and was followed by an Eloy Jimenez RBI double in the fourth to give the White Sox an early 2-0 lead. After the Red Sox grabbed a run off Gio Gonzalez, the White Sox responded with a two-run homer from Yoan Moncada, his fifth in eight games this season.

In the eighth, with the South Siders up 6-1, Yasmani Grandal followed the long ball barrage with a solo homer off Heath Hembree. Grandal matched his new teammate Moncada with five home runs in the first eight games.

For the second straight game, Rick Renteria went to the Sox 'pen and they in return failed to maintain a big lead. Jimmy Cordero and Jace Fry gave up five runs in the eighth to shrink the Chicago lead to 7-6 lead before Steve Cishek stopped the bleeding. In the ninth, Sox closer Aaron Bummer had a high stress outing with two aboard with only one out before striking out Rafael Devers and forcing Kevin Pillar to ground out to Tim Anderson. He picked up his American League-leading fourth save of the season as the White Sox held on to beat the Red Sox, 7-6.

Result: White Sox def. Red Sox 7-6

Record: 5-3, second in AL Central (0.5 GB of Indians)

W: Gio Gonzalez (1-0)

L: Brian Johnson (0-2)

SV: Aaron Bummer (4)

White Sox lineup

Tim Anderson: 2-5, 2 2B (.353 BA)

Yoan Moncada: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI (.371 BA)

Jose Abreu: 2-4, HR, RBI (.250 BA)

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-3, BB (.214 BA)

Yasmani Grandal: 2-4, HR, RBI (.344 BA)

Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, RBI (.276 BA)

Luis Robert: 1-3, RBI, SB (.286 BA)

Nomar Mazara: 0-2, RBI (.207 BA)

Leury Garcia: 1-4 (.250 BA)

Scoring summary

Top 1st:

Jose Abreu homered to left field. 1-0 CHW.

Top 4th:

Eloy Jimenez doubled to right. Edwin Encarnacion scored. 2-0 CHW.

Luis Robert sacrifice fly. Yasmani Grandal scored. 3-0 CHW.

Nomar Mazar sacrifice fly. Eloy Jimenez scored. 4-0 CHW.

Bottom 4th:

Kevin Pillar doubled to right. Xander Bogaerts scored. 4-1 CHW.

Top 5th:

Yoan Moncada homered to left. Tim Anderson scored. 6-1 CHW.

Top 8th:

Yasmani Grandal homered to center. 7-1 CHW.

Bottom 8th:

Rafael Devers singled to right. J.D. Martinez scored. 7-2 CHW.

Kevin Pillar singled to center. Xander Bogaerts scored. 7-3 CHW

Michael Chavis singled to right. Rafael Devers scored. Kevin Pillar scored. 7-5 CHW.

Mitch Moreland singled to left. Christian Vazquez scored. 7-6 CHW

Notable performance: Gio Gonzalez was sharp in his first White Sox start taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning. Gonzalez gave up three hits while holding the Boston bats to only one run in six innings of work. Between mixing speeds and inducing groundballs, Gonzalez showed he can be a viable rotation piece for the South Siders.

Next game: Sunday, April 5 - Gm. 9: White Sox at Red Sox (Reynaldo Lopez vs. Ryan Weber)