White Sox

Dear MLB free agents, White Sox players want you

Dear MLB free agents, White Sox players want you

Before leaving Chicago for the winter, White Sox players seemed to have a unanimous opinion about the foundation they built in 2019 and what they believe lies ahead starting in 2020.  

Winning is coming.

Reliever Aaron Bummer put it simply.

“It’s that time.”

The young core of Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez is here. Luis Robert is on the way.

Now begins the mystery of what other talent could be headed to the White Sox in deals made this winter.

Players don’t sign free agents, but if you’re a starting pitcher, right fielder or designated hitter about to enter the market looking for a place to win, know this: There’s a clubhouse on the South Side that’s ready for you.

“You look at how teams have gone through this rebuild process like the Cubs and the Astros.  Right now is that time where we’re about to turn it over. It’s no longer about development and getting experience. It’s about winning,” Giolito said. “For a free-agent guy who wants to go somewhere exciting, somewhere we’re about to start building a good winning culture, I think this is a great spot for that.”

White Sox fans still feeling the affects of last year’s swing-and-miss at Manny Machado might have some doubts that the front office will convert on the big targets in this year’s class.  Ultimately, it’ll be up to Rick Hahn and Co. to eliminate that skepticism. Fortunately, the White Sox are in a stronger position to convert on top-tier free agents this year compared to last because they don’t have to convince players and agents on what Jimenez, Moncada, etc. might do. In 2019, they went out and did it.

"I really think we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t need to sell the team or talk about the future because it’s evident to everyone around the league what’s coming,” Hahn said in his season-ending press conference. “When you are talking to some free agents, last year, we were probably a year too soon. You had to map out what it was going to look like and educate them a little bit about who was coming and how we saw this thing coming together.

“Over the course of this year, we saw a lot of it come together before our eyes and it’s fairly easy to project out who is going to be joining us from our system and what’s that going to potentially look like. The excitement is there, not just in our clubhouse but around the game right now."

Giolito and James McCann experienced this first hand when they spoke to other players at the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

“There were a lot of guys who were singing our praises,” McCann said.

Hopefully, those compliments were coming from, oh, J.D. Martinez, Gerrit Cole and Yasmani Grandal.

“Talking with various friends and people around the league, especially at the All-Star Game, there’s only been positive talks about how talented we are and how good we can be,” Giolito added. “But now it’s on us to make it happen. We didn’t make it happen this year, but now it’s go-time next year.”

Jake Odorizzi, Dallas Keuchel, Marcell Ozuna, did you hear that?

“It’s no longer waiting. It’s a shift to a winning desire that’s attractive to guys. I mean, it’s attractive to me. I want to win,” Bummer said. “Everyone in this clubhouse wants to win. We’re going to do whatever it takes to win.”

As a free agent at the lower end of the market last winter, McCann had to see the forest through the trees before signing with the White Sox last winter. Giolito was coming off his disastrous 2018 season, Moncada led all of baseball in strikeouts, Jose Abreu was coming off his worst season in the majors, Michael Kopech was lost for the year with Tommy John surgery.  

McCann himself was saddled with an ugly year offensively, finishing with career lows in batting average, home runs and RBIs.

The optics are much different for the White Sox in free agency this time around.

“From a standpoint of where this organization is at, I think it’s an opportunity to come in and help get an organization with such a rich tradition back in the postseason,” McCann explained. “I think that’s a very attractive thing. It’s also knowing the amount of talent and youth. It’s not just one year, now or never. It’s a chance to be good for several years.”

Even before the White Sox make a move this offseason, their 72-89 record in 2019 might not scream playoffs a year from now. But the way Bummer looks at it, there’s more to the story than just the wins and losses.

“I think there’s no doubt that everyone in this clubhouse is going to get better. I think that’s the goal of everyone is to get better, at the end of the day. And if all of a sudden everyone keeps getting better, who’s to limit us on the amount of wins we can get?” Bummer said. “Everyone says that 20 (more) wins in one year is a lot. If you look and see what’s in the clubhouse and the way that some of the games have gone for us, we definitely could have won 10 more games this year. All of a sudden, we’re at 80 wins.”

The core players did their part. Now, the job falls on the front office to surround them with the necessary pieces to help the White Sox as they enter what Hahn described as “the next phase” starting in 2020.

Madison Bumgarner, Nicholas Castellanos, Edwin Encarnacion: Want to join the party?

Those already here anxiously await the possible news to come.

“You look forward to the winter meetings when all those rumors really start to surface,” McCann said. “I’ll be pressing the refresh button quite a bit.”

He’s not alone.

Get ready to click.

It should be a busy winter.

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Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Donn Pall

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Donn Pall

Donn Pall was in the Comiskey Park stands for Disco Demolition. Less than ten years later, the life-long White Sox fan was on the mound, pitching at Comiskey. 

Against all odds, “The Pope” lived his dream. Remember that guy?

Donn Steven Pall was born Jan. 11, 1962 in Chicago. He pitched at Evergreen Park High School, roughly 20 minutes south of Comiskey. He didn’t make the all-conference team in high school, and he was cut as a freshman walk-on at the University of Illinois (he enrolled as a math and computer science major), but didn’t give up. He made the team as a sophomore and went 5-12 over his next two seasons at U of I.

As a senior, Pall figured things out and started to draw some attention, going 13-1 (he started 13-0). He was drafted in the 23rd round of the 1985 MLB draft, by his hometown White Sox, no less. It was a dream come true.

Pall started his professional career in 1985 as a starter in rookie ball. After going 8-11 with a 4.27 ERA for Birmingham in 1987, he thrived in winter ball in Venezuela and settled into a new role as a reliever. In 1988, he used his signature pitches — a forkball and splitter — to go along with his mid-80s fastball and his slider, and blossomed into a fine reliever at Triple-A Vancouver, posting a 2.23 ERA before getting his shot in the White Sox bullpen in August.

Pall made his MLB debut on Aug. 1, 1988 at Comiskey in the ninth inning of an eventual 10-2 defeat vs. the A's. He pitched one inning, allowing one run on two hits, with a double play and one strikeout (Tony Phillips). Coming home to pitch for the team he grew up rooting for, he quickly became a fan favorite, signing an abundance of autographs for fans and earning a nickname from broadcasters Hawk Harrelson and Tom Paciorek. He was “The Pope, Donn Pall” after Pope John Paul II. In his first taste of MLB action, Pall posted a 3.45 ERA in 17 games.

Pall became a fixture in the White Sox bullpen, pitching 50+ times in each of the next three seasons, posting ERAs of 3.31, 3.32 and 2.41. In 1989, he earned a save in each of his first two games of the season, including Opening Day — the first two saves of his MLB career. Pall’s first big league win came on April 27, 1989, when he pitched the final four frames (scoreless) of a marathon 16-inning battle in Boston. He showed he could handle either long relief or setup duties and found success even without high octane gas or big strikeout totals.

“The Pope” rebounded from a shaky 1992 (4.93 ERA) to post a 3.22 ERA in 39 appearances for the Sox in 1993, but he was designated for assignment at the end of August to make room for Iván Calderón. On Sept. 1, the Sox traded him to the Phillies for a player to be named later, who turned out to be catcher Doug Lindsey (who had a grand total of one at-bat over two games in his Sox career). While Donn was saddened to leave his hometown team, he would end up on the NL East-leading Phillies. He pitched well (2.55 ERA in eight outings) but was left off the postseason roster.

Pall signed with the Yankees for 1994 and wasn’t bad, posting a 3.60 ERA in 26 appearances, but he was released at the end of July. The next month, he did the unthinkable; he signed with the Cubs, who needed a replacement on the roster for Jose Bautista, who had an ailing elbow. Pall pitched twice for the Cubs before the strike put an end to the 1994 season.

Pall tried to reunite with the White Sox in 1995, but didn’t make the team. He spent the entire season in Triple-A Nashville and then signed with the Marlins for 1996, starting out in the minors. On June 23, he made his first big league appearance since August 1994, tossing three scoreless innings. He struggled to a 5.79 ERA in 1996 and made only two major league appearances in 1997 for the world-champion Marlins (though he was given a ring anyway).

In 1998, Pall made the final 23 appearances of his MLB career for the Marlins. He was one of the few pitchers to throw to Mike Piazza during the future Hall of Famer’s five-game stint with Florida. Pall’s final MLB appearance was Sept. 27, 1998, when he allowed one run in three innings against the Phillies. The last batter he faced was Doug Glanville, who doubled in a run but was thrown out at third to end the inning.

After retiring, Pall was a financial consultant and retirement planner. He still makes it out the ballpark for White Sox games.

Like the late Ed Farmer, Pall was a Chicago guy who had the chance to come home and pitch for his hometown White Sox. We can’t help but to root a little harder for guys like that. Pall was cut as a freshman in college, but he’s currently 15th on the White Sox all-time relief appearances list with 255. Overall, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 328 career MLB games over 10 seasons.

“The Pope” Donn Pall. You remember that guy!

Scott Podsednik's base stealing set Paul Konerko up for home runs

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USA Today

Scott Podsednik's base stealing set Paul Konerko up for home runs

The White Sox knew the first month of their 2005 schedule would be crucial because 22 of their first 28 games were against American League Central opponents.

But no one could have predicted that they’d obliterate their division en route to an unlikely 21-7 start.

After a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals in early May, the White Sox improved to 18-4 against their own division, an incredible pace that put them 4.5 games up on the Minnesota Twins, who weren’t exactly playing poorly.

But after a heavy divisional start, the schedule was about to flip wildly. Now the White Sox had to prove they could beat the rest of the American League. The next 25 games on the schedule were against non-AL Central opponents. In fact, other than a three-game series against the Indians in early June, 37 of their next 40 games were against non-divisional opponents.

No sweat.

Starting off in Toronto from May 6-8, the White Sox kept rolling. With Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez starting to pitch deeper into the games, manager Ozzie Guillen was able to keep red-hot Jon Garland in his comfortable spot deeper in the rotation. The White Sox won the first two games in Toronto, and while they may have had a reputation for winning one-run ballgames, the ’05 team was also capable of beating you by lighting up the scoreboard.

That’s what happened on Saturday, May 7, as Garland failed to get out of the sixth inning for the first time all season. It didn’t really matter because he had been spotted a 10-2 lead as the White Sox pounded Blue Jays starter Ted Lilly for six runs in just 1.2 innings. The home run list was long and included Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe and two from Paul Konerko, who hadn’t gone deep since April 19.

But it was Scott Podsednik who stole the show, as he swiped four bases in the 10-7 win, tying a White Sox single-game record.

“He’s a true leadoff guy,” Paul Konerko told the Chicago Tribune. “There aren’t many guys in the game who get on base and can change the pace of what’s going on out there. Pitchers are throwing over to first because he’s stealing bases. Pitchers are making bad pitches because they’re worried about him.”

Both of Konerko’s home runs that day came after Podsednik successfully stole both second and third base.

This was just the latest fun way in which the White Sox beat a team that season -- and they were already 23-7 on the year.

The next day on the calendar was Sunday, May 8, and Mark Buehrle was on the mound so you knew there was a good chance the White Sox could get to St. Petersburg, Fla., in time for a late dinner.

Buehrle entered that start with a 34-game streak of pitching at least six innings and the White Sox were looking for their second eight-game winning streak of the season.

Again, it was May 8.

Here’s what Guillen’s lineup looked like:

LF Scott Podsednik
SS Juan Uribe
DH Carl Everett
1B Paul Konerko
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Jermaine Dye
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Joe Crede
2B Pedro Lopez

Anyone remember Pedro Lopez?

The White Sox-Blue Jays game from May 8, 2005 will air Monday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. For the full White Sox Rewind schedule from the 2005 season, click here.