White Sox

A couple wishes fulfilled for White Sox at All-Star Game

A couple wishes fulfilled for White Sox at All-Star Game

CLEVELAND — Before Tuesday night's All-Star Game, the White Sox first timers were asked what they wanted to do in this one.

Who did Lucas Giolito want to strike out?

"The best of the best," Giolito said. "(Christian) Yelich, (Cody) Bellinger, those types of guys. That'd be cool to go out and strike out a guy that could go on and win MVP this year."

Who did James McCann want to catch? Besides Giolito, of course.

"The one guy that really sticks out is (Aroldis) Chapman," McCann said. "I've had to face him. I've had to see 102 coming at me. I think it'd be fun to see 102 coming at me as a catcher."

Well, the baseball gods granted those wishes in the Midsummer Classic.

Giolito made his appearance in the fourth inning. He started things with a four-pitch walk to Freddie Freeman but followed it up with a strikeout — of Bellinger. The next two batters each grounded out, giving Giolito a scoreless inning in his first All-Star Game.

Coincidentally, the inning mirrored one of the biggest talking points surrounding Giolito's incredible transformation this season. He got into early trouble, but instead of letting things unravel, he got back in the zone and retired the next three batters he faced.

"Felt good," Giolito said of striking out Bellinger. "He's in the running for MVP, and I was able to put him away right there.

"You have to have that (confidence). If you want to compete at this level and stay here for a long time, you have to have the confidence that you're better than everybody else every time you're pitching. That's what I take into my games, whether it's a start against whoever during the regular season or an All-Star Game, one inning.

"For me, that's what it's all about."

Of course, this was on the biggest stage Giolito's ever pitched in, so it's no surprise that there were some jitters.

"He did a good job," Jose Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "After that inning, we were talking in the dugout, and he said that during the first batter he was really anxious and nervous. And I told him, 'Hey, that's normal. But you settled down after, and that was good.' It was a fun moment for him and for me, too."

Then there's McCann, who got his wish to catch the flame-throwing closer from the New York Yankees. The first question: How's your hand?

"It's good," McCann said. "He threw the ball extremely well.

"It's easier to catch than it is to hit. There's no doubt about that."

Catching Chapman, though, might not have even been the highlight of his night. He smoked a line-drive single for a hit in his only trip to the plate. And he also made a diving catch in foul territory, hanging onto a pop up to end an eighth-inning rally by the National League.

"It was fun. I think the smile that came across my face tells it all.

"Being around the best players and stepping on the same field as them, it's a dream come true."

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White Sox don’t want to move Yoan Moncada, so what does that mean for Anthony Rendon?


White Sox don’t want to move Yoan Moncada, so what does that mean for Anthony Rendon?

Would the White Sox pursue Anthony Rendon?

It’s one of the many things they’re not taking off the table as they embark on what’s expected to be a busy offseason. But it doesn’t sound like they’re itching to make the necessary corresponding move: switching Yoan Moncada’s position for the second year in a row.

Of course, Rick Hahn doesn’t talk about specific free agents, meaning he doesn’t get asked about specific free agents, meaning there’s no definitive answer on whether the White Sox are even interested in Rendon, the top position player on the free-agent market this winter. The rumor mill is already churning, though, and they’ve been connected to the All-Star third baseman, among plenty of other big names.

But the White Sox have a third baseman in Moncada, and they really don’t want to move him again. However, if the right free-agent opportunity presented itself, maybe they would.

“We're not looking to move him again because we do think he's an MVP-caliber player over at third base and don't want to upset the apple cart with that,” Hahn said during the GM meetings last week in Arizona. “That said, he's also extraordinarily athletic and has the ability to play multiple other positions, whether it's second base, like you saw, or even potentially in the outfield, something that he's raised before.

“The general plan is to not mess with that, but we're at least going to go through this process and be open minded about, 'If we did this, what effect would that have on Moncada and how do we project him going forward at a different spot?' We project him awfully good at the spot he's at right now.”

Moncada had a breakout offensive season and at least appeared to play a good defensive third base in 2019 (even if some of the defensive metrics said otherwise). After striking out 217 times in his first full season in the major leagues in 2018, he blossomed into the White Sox best all-around hitter with a .315/.367/.548 slash line to go along with 25 homers, 34 doubles and 79 RBIs in 132 games.

Rendon, meanwhile, is a perennial MVP-type producer coming off a career year featuring a .319/.412/.598 slash line, 34 homers, 44 doubles and 126 RBIs. He also plays a very good third base, a Gold Glove finalist this year.

He’s the kind of player you rearrange your defense for.

The White Sox are looking for that kind of major splash, a guy who can help vault their rebuilding project into contention mode. Rendon is the type of middle-of-the-order bat who could do just that, and the opportunity to sign him might be too good to pass up. And though we’re throttling our way down Hypothetical Avenue, the White Sox would have to figure out where to put Moncada if they were able to sign Rendon.

Moncada’s versatility, as Hahn mentioned, could help with that. Moncada spent the 2017 season at second base, where he made a whopping 21 errors. Manager Rick Renteria revealed during the season that Moncada has said he can play the outfield, and Moncada himself said he’d play wherever the White Sox wanted him to play.

We also don’t have to guess at whether the White Sox would chase one of the best players in baseball despite their playing a position the team already has filled. They did it last winter, going after Manny Machado while Tim Anderson was seemingly entrenched at shortstop.

But with three stated goals on their offseason to-do list — right field, designated hitter and starting pitching — the White Sox don’t seem to be close to putting all their chips on Rendon's number.

Hence the staunch defense of keeping Moncada at third base. But, in what is emerging as a theme for the White Sox this winter, the door remains open to anything.

“In terms of moving Yoan, that's not a goal. We're not looking to move him,” Hahn said. “We think he's a really, really good third baseman and will be that for a long time.

“When we have players with flexibility and athleticism, you at least consider different permutations. We wouldn't be doing our job if there was a way for us to get better that we just ruled out because we have set at a certain spot.

“Part of it, though, and we don't take it lightly is: Moving him again defensively, what impact does that have on his performance? It's not an exact science, but it's a consideration. And given how good he's been this last year plus and the trajectory he's on, moving him is not something we take lightly.”

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Paul Konerko lands on Hall of Fame ballot for first time

Paul Konerko lands on Hall of Fame ballot for first time

Paul Konerko is on the Hall of Fame ballot.

The 2020 ballot includes the White Sox legend for the first time, Konerko landing among baseball’s greats five years after his retirement following the 2014 season.

Konerko is unlikely to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, though his Hall-of-Fame candidacy in general warrants a close look. He slashed .279/.354/.486 in his 18-year big league career, smacking 439 home runs and driving in 1,412 runs. His name appears all over the franchise leaderboards, and he was one of the key cogs in the team’s World Series championship in 2005.

As far as further Hall-of-Fame credentials go, Konerko twice finished in the top 10 in the American League MVP vote (2005 and 2010). He hit at least 20 homers in 13 different seasons and hit at least 30 homers in seven different seasons. He twice topped the 40-homer mark. He had six seasons of at least 100 RBIs and batted .300 or better in four different seasons. His 439 homers rank 44th on the all-time major league home run list.

Undoubtedly, Konerko is one of the greatest players in White Sox history, and he’s immortalized on the South Side with a retired number and a statue on the outfield concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field. Whether he is enshrined in Cooperstown is likely a question that won’t be answered for several years, but he can start racking up votes this winter.

He’s not the only former White Sox player on the ballot, joined by one-time teammates Adam Dunn, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, J.J. Putz and Manny Ramirez, as well as Sammy Sosa, whose three-year stint on the South Side came long before Konerko joined the team. But fans will rightfully concentrate on the guy who spent 16 seasons in a White Sox uniform and became a fan favorite.

Also on this year's ballot are Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chavez, Roger Clemens, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Jeff Kent, Cliff Lee, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner and Larry Walker.

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