White Sox

Tim Anderson's have-fun crusade gets Michael Kopech's stamp of approval: 'Have all the fun you want'

Tim Anderson's have-fun crusade gets Michael Kopech's stamp of approval: 'Have all the fun you want'

“We play a game. It’s fun. That is all.”

Michael Kopech tweeted that as the debate over old-school vs. new-school got dragged back into the fore by the actions of his teammate. The injured pitcher was thousands of miles from the epicenter of the chain of events that thrust Tim Anderson into the national spotlight. But, thanks to social media, he’s been standing right beside Anderson all along.

Bat flips make for fun highlights and good marketing campaigns, but there’s a certain segment of players, fans and other baseball people that think they’re a display of arrogance, inappropriate behavior and a violation of unwritten but well-established rules that have developed in the game’s century and a half of existence.

Anderson has taken up the crusade of changing baseball for the better, making an at times old-timey game more fun and more appealing to different populations of fans, be they younger than the typical baseball fan or have a different skin color than the typical baseball fan.

Kopech has been among Anderson’s supporters.


In addition to his social-media support, Kopech provided his thoughts on the whole situation Friday, talking with reporters during his multi-day break from Arizona.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t throw at somebody because they pissed me off before. So I see both sides of it. But I’m not saying I’m right for throwing at anybody, either,” Kopech said from the home dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field. “What Tim is doing is having fun. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him having fun. So that aspect of everything is kind of controversial right now because there are people who agree and disagree and some people kind of agree with it.

“It’s at a point where the game either has to change or it’s not going to. I think Tim is making a push for the game to change, which is fine by me. Have all the fun you want.

“If I strike somebody out and I pound my chest or whatever, I don’t want anybody getting pissed off at me. If I give one up next year and it’s over that scoreboard, I don’t really care. Flip your bat. Do it. I might get mad at the time. But I’ll get over it.”

The level of offense people take from someone flipping a bat — a pretty silly thing to get mad about when you see it written out like that — has to do with a lot of different factors. The majority of White Sox fans seem to be behind Anderson, though their opinions might be different if he didn’t play for the White Sox.

Anderson’s teammates have been vocal in their support of him, though some have described themselves as “old school,” admitting to being in the camp Anderson is up against. Of course, they have the luxury of knowing Anderson and being around him on a daily basis, understanding what kind of person he is. If someone else did the same thing against them and they didn’t have the same kind of experience they have with Anderson, they might find themselves feeling much the way Brad Keller did when he plunked Anderson in the at-bat following that bat flip on April 17.

None of that should be forgotten as this debate rolls on with Anderson playing a starring role. The White Sox and their fans should have some extra appreciation for Anderson, especially as his hard work has yielded some tremendous results in the first month of the 2019 season. He received American League Player of the Month honors just Thursday and still led the AL in batting average and stolen bases heading into Friday’s game.

There’s been a sense that both with the offensive results and the displays of emotion on the field, we’re finally seeing the real Tim Anderson. Kopech agrees.

“He’s really confident. He’s always been that confident player,” Kopech said. “It’s fun to see him really come into himself because we know him as that guy in the clubhouse, but I think he’s made a few comments even that he’s never really shown that side of himself on the field and he’s starting to and it’s really fun to watch.

“He’s a great guy and a great player.”

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Jose Abreu flips the score, beats the Red Sox with a ninth-inning home run

Jose Abreu flips the score, beats the Red Sox with a ninth-inning home run

Alex Colome blew his first save of the season in the eighth inning, and the White Sox seemed destined for a deflating loss that would have had them swept out of Fenway Park.

Jose Abreu had different plans.

Down a run with one out in the top of the ninth, Abreu battled Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes in a 10-pitch at-bat. The 10th of those pitches was sent over the Green Monster for a score-flipping, two-run homer that took a 7-6 loss to an 8-7 lead.

Clutch.

It was the second ball Abreu blasted over the Monster in this series. He smacked one off the National Car Rental sign Monday night. This one did even more damage and traveled completely outside of Fenway Park, to boot.

That 8-7 lead turned into an 8-7 win when Colome shut the door in the bottom of the ninth.

Abreu doesn't have the same averages he has throughout his immensely productive big league career, the owner of a .255/.295/.493 slash line coming into Wednesday's game. But he's back on track from a power perspective after last season's injury-plagues season, with 19 homers and 59 RBIs. The four runs he drove in Wednesday's three-hit effort brought him to that 19-59 total that's a special numerical combination to White Sox fans. As of this writing, Abreu is one off the league-leading 60 RBIs of Seattle's Domingo Santana.

Abreu's heroics prevented the White Sox losing streak from sliding to five. It also continued a nice bounce-back season for him that has proven he's still capable of doing plenty of damage and could keep him around on the South Side into the future. He's slated to hit free agency at the end of the 2019 campaign, but general manager Rick Hahn has made it sound like Abreu is part of the team's plans moving forward.

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White Sox reportedly sign first-round pick Andrew Vaughn: How fast could he reach the majors?

White Sox reportedly sign first-round pick Andrew Vaughn: How fast could he reach the majors?

Whether it’s Dylan Cease or Luis Robert or Nick Madrigal, the No. 1 question on the minds of White Sox fans is always the same: How soon will they be playing their ball on the South Side?

The sooner these prospects reach the big leagues, the sooner the White Sox can shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode. That’s the idea, at least, and it looks plenty realistic as the three aforementioned prospects continue to tear things up in the minors, all while positive signs abound at the major league level.

Well, there’s a new star prospect in the mix. According to a report from the Tribune's Mark Gonzales, the White Sox agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Andrew Vaughn, the power-hitting first baseman they spent the No. 3 pick on earlier this month.

Vaughn had White Sox fans real excited on draft night, and they had a right to be giddy. Vaughn won the Golden Spikes Award last year as college baseball’s best player. He launched 50 home runs in his three seasons at Cal. And he was talked up as potentially the best all-around hitter in the draft (with only No. 1 pick Adley Rutschman generally considered the better all-around bat).

So with Vaughn’s much ballyhooed power and his status as a college player, could it make for a rapid rise through the farm system?

“I think he's probably one of the guys that a lot of people would say could be the 'quickest to the big leagues,' someone that could advance fast,” White Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler said on draft night. “The big thing for him is getting his feet wet and acclimated to professional baseball first before we rush him and declare him our starting first baseman. Get him acclimated first and make sure that he's gotten tested at different levels. I think that's going to be big for him.

“He is a guy who is advanced at the plate, so you would like to think that skill set would offer the ability for him to move through our system more quickly than someone who might need a swing overhaul or someone that is just a pure athlete and needs time to work on the bat. I would expect him to move probably a little bit quicker than a normal progression.

“But at the same time, until he gets out there and shows us what he can do offensively in the pro setting, that will be left up to (director of player development Chris Getz).”

Obviously, Vaughn is behind the schedules of Cease, Robert and even Madrigal, who the White Sox took with the No. 4 pick in last year’s draft. The team’s window looks like it could start to open during the 2020 season, which wouldn’t be surprising if those three are all on the Opening Day roster. Cease is expected to be up this summer. Robert started the year at Class A Winston-Salem, so playing at four levels in one season could be unrealistic. But Robert is swinging such a hot bat that projecting him to make the big league team by Opening Day 2020 is hardly radical.

Madrigal is the least likely of the three to be on next season’s Opening Day roster, though after a slowish start, he’s been red hot since his promotion to Double-A Birmingham, with a .393/.456/.472 slash line in 16 games there. He’s not going to hit around .400 the remainder of the season, but if he continues to have success, his rise would figure to speed up.

And if Madrigal could be a potential big leaguer a year and a half after being drafted, could the same be true for Vaughn? It depends on how he performs, obviously, but it will also depend on what the White Sox want to see out of Vaughn. If he really had the most polished power bat in draft and one of the finest all-around bats, there might not be much he needs to improve on offensively, he might merely need to show mastery of the pitching he faces as he rises from one level to the next.

"We think we got one of the best bats in the draft," Getz said on a recent edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast. "He can hit, he can hit with power. Very strong understanding of hitting. We think he's going to transition well right out of the gate.

"A guy like that, he's just an ultra-talented guy that needs to go out there and perform. The sky's the limit here."

Defensively, though, it could be a different story. Hostetler had good things to say about Vaughn’s defense on draft night. But while fans bemoaned Rick Hahn’s defense-related explanations for why Eloy Jimenez didn’t leap to the bigs in 2018, it’s been plenty apparent during Jimenez’s rookie season that he is not a finished product in left field.

We have to wait to see what ends up being the case with Vaughn. But the discussion of his bat as an advanced one is a good sign that he could be on a faster track than most. And with the White Sox nearing contention mode, a quick rise by Vaughn could make the difference in a playoff race sometime in the near future.

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