White Sox

Welington Castillo still has an important job, even if he isn't a part of the White Sox long-term plans

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USA TODAY

Welington Castillo still has an important job, even if he isn't a part of the White Sox long-term plans

It's no bold statement to suggest that Welington Castillo is not a part of the long-term planning on the South Side.

The White Sox are still rebuilding, developing young players at all levels of the organization and crafting the core of a roster they hope will yield a perennial contender. Castillo's a 31-year-old veteran and barring something unforeseen will not be a part of that future. Zack Collins and Seby Zavala, a pair of catching prospects, are currently finishing off their minor league developments at Triple-A. Collins is off to a hot start, with five home runs in his first nine games as a Charlotte Knight. Both are expected to arrive in the major leagues sometime before time runs out on the 2019 season.

So what of Castillo? He was brought in two offseasons ago to help mold the team's numerous young starting pitchers, though he didn't get much opportunity to do that while serving a PED suspension that knocked 80 games off his workload last season. His offensive numbers, meanwhile, sank like a stone following a career year with the Baltimore Orioles in 2017. What looked like a useful veteran bridge to Collins and Zavala quickly became, within the fan base, a waiting game for his contract — which does have a team option for 2020, by the way — to expire.

Castillo, then, will be relied upon in 2019 to do what he couldn't in 2018: work with these young pitchers, chiefly Reynaldo Lopez, who he catches on a regular basis, and help turn them into guys the White Sox can hopefully build a future rotation around.

How's that going so far in 2019? The results haven't been great, with just a handful of good starts from the starting staff through the season's first 15 games. And none of them have come from Lopez. James McCann has caught all of Lucas Giolito's starts, same with Carlos Rodon's. So Castillo's main task this season seems to be Lopez, who's begun the season with 12.15 ERA in just 13.1 innings over his first three starts.

"I think that we have had our struggles here early. And I don’t know that has anything to do with our catchers as much as the pitchers are still trying to knock a little bit of the rust off and get themselves into a rhythm," manager Rick Renteria said before Lopez's start against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. "But I think Wely has done what he’s needed to do with the guys we have.

"He and (McCann) are really good conversationalists with these guys in terms of baseball. When they get together and you see (pitching coach Don Cooper) and (assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler) and all the pitchers, the conversations are really good. They know what they are trying to accomplish and trying to get the best out of each pitcher. He’s doing what he needs to do to try to help us move forward."

Castillo admitted that working with struggling starters is less enjoyable than working with successful starters — not exactly a shock — but also expressed confidence that these guys, Lopez specifically, are going to turn things around.

"Honestly, it's not fun because it's part of my job to try to make them better, try to help them when they're not doing good," Castillo said Tuesday. "But I just try to stay in his mind, get in his mind and try to get his confidence back. It doesn't matter, anybody can miss a pitch, anybody can strike out, anybody can miss a play. You can't get your head down. Get your head up and keep doing your thing.

"I know the type of pitcher (Lopez) is, a guy that goes right at the hitter. He just hasn't been this year — maybe the weather or whatever it is — the guy that he was last year. But there's not any doubt about what he's capable of doing. Always when he takes the ball, I think we're going to go seven, eight innings. So that's the confidence I have in him, and that's a guy who goes right at the hitters. He's not afraid to pitch. I don't worry about him because I know him. We are really tight, and I know what he can do."

Castillo is one of a group of White Sox veterans whose impact on the franchise's future likely won't include them getting any big hits in a playoff game. When they were acquired, offseason additions like Yonder Alonso, Jon Jay and Ivan Nova were praised for the kinds of lessons they can leave behind in the clubhouse as much as for their on-field talent, which indicates the value the White Sox hope to get out these guys even if they aren't penciling them into the starting lineups for 2022 and 2023.

With Collins and Zavala nearing their major league debuts, Castillo falls into that veteran group, and it's hoped that what he can do for young pitchers like Lopez can breed key members of that rotation of the future. Considering it's been a slow offensive start for Castillo — despite bright spots like Monday night's clutch game-winning homer in the eighth inning — helping Lopez make strides this season will be his most important job.

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MLB The Show: White Sox complete sweep of Twins as power surge continues

MLB The Show: White Sox complete sweep of Twins as power surge continues

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. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Twins 13-4
Record: 24-29, T-3rd in A.L. Central (5.5 GB of Twins)

W: Dylan Cease (3-3)
L: Rich Hill (3-4)

Game summary: Things couldn’t have gone any better for the White Sox in this weekend’s four-game series vs the Twins. The South Siders took the first three games by offensive force and the finale was no different.

Nick Madrigal’s unlikely tenure in the cleanup spot has mostly been underwhelming, until Sunday afternoon. The slight-in-stature second baseman ripped a three-run homer to left to give the White Sox the lead in the first.

Chicago doubled the advantage in the second, when Edwin Encarnacion slugged a two-run homer and Eloy Jimenez drilled a solo shot. Jimenez remains the gift that keeps on giving, as he now has 19 long balls on the season, second in the American League and already a career-high. The White Sox led 6-0 after two frames.

Meanwhile, Jose Abreu continued his torrid stretch. The first baseman extended his hitting streak to 17 games, going a perfect 4-for-4 on Sunday. He also went deep twice: a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run blast in the eighth. His five-RBI night ensured this was yet another blowout vs. the division leaders.

The White Sox clobbered the Twins 13-4 for their sixth straight win and suddenly sit just 5.5 games back in the AL Central.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 2-5, HR (15), 2 RBI, 2 R (.312 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-5, 2B, HR (19), RBI, 3 R (.270 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-4, R (.258 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-5, HR (6), 3 RBI, 3 R (.246 BA)
Jose Abreu:  4-4, 2 HR (17), 5 RBI, 3 R (.309 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5, RBI (.296 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-4 (.240 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-5, R (.295 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-5, RBI (.244 BA)

Scoring Summary:

Top first

Nick Madrigal homered to left field, Edwin Encarnacion and Eloy Jimenez scored. 3-0 CHW.

Top second

Encarnacion homered to left field, Yasmani Grandal scored. 5-0 CHW.
Jimenez homered to center field. 6-0 CHW.

Bottom second

Mitch Garver homered to center field. 6-1 CHW.

Bottom fourth

Garver homered to left field, Josh Donaldson scored. 6-3 CHW.

Top fifth

Jose Abreu homered to center field, Madrigal scored. 8-3 CHW.

Top seventh

Tim Anderson singled to center field, Yoan Moncada scored. 9-3 CHW.
Nomar Mazara singled to second baseman, Abreu scored. 10-3 CHW.

Top eighth

Abreu homered to left field, Jimenez and Madrigal scored. 13-3 CHW.

Bottom ninth

Eddie Rosario doubled to center field, Donaldson scored. 13-4 CHW.

Notable performance: The home run played a vital role in this series sweep of the Twins. The White Sox hit 14 long balls as they completely eviscerated the division leaders in four games.

Next game: Monday, May 25 - Game 54: White Sox at Orioles (Reynaldo Lopez, 4-2, 4.36 ERA vs Asher Wojciechowski, 1-5, 4.89 ERA)

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: Underdogs? 14-run ALDS coming-out party said otherwise

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Underdogs? 14-run ALDS coming-out party said otherwise

The White Sox were the best team in the American League in 2005.

And yet, during a field report in the first inning of the first playoff game on the South Side that postseason, what did ESPN’s Erin Andrews call the White Sox?

Underdogs.

Underdogs? Ninety-nine wins and they were underdogs?

Of course, it didn’t bother the White Sox. Teams are always happy to wear the underdog mentality like a badge of honor.

Andrews relayed this quote from Ozzie Guillen: “When you are the White Sox, you have to accomplish something or you’re not going to be in the spotlight.”

Boy, did they grab the spotlight in Game 1 of the ALDS.

White Sox fans know what Guillen was talking about all too well, what with the attention the Cubs are always receiving, in good times or bad, on the other side of town. And it should have come as no surprise that the defending-champion Boston Red Sox, the White Sox adversaries in this ALDS, would receive the lion’s share of the attention from the national media.

And so, despite leading the AL Central from wire to wire, despite grabbing the top seed on the AL side of the playoff bracket, they still had to do something to capture the attention of the baseball world at large.

Scoring 14 runs sure counts as something.

A team that wins 99 games shouldn’t require a “coming-out party.” But the White Sox did it anyway, making some big-time noise against the Red Sox and doing it quickly. They scored five runs in the first inning, A.J. Pierzynski delivering the big blow with a three-run home run off Matt Clement, a blast that whipped an already electric crowd into a new level of frenzy.


The runs didn’t stop coming. Paul Konerko homered in the third inning to make it a 6-0 game. Juan Uribe hit a two-run shot in the fourth. Scott Podsednik, after finishing the regular season with a grand total of zero home runs, hit a three-run homer in the sixth. Pierzynski homered again in the eighth.

Oh, and Jose Contreras pretty well silenced a Red Sox lineup featuring two of the world’s best hitters, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, over 7.2 innings of two-run ball.

Underdogs? Really?

RELATED: White Sox 2005 Rewind: 7 nominees for South Side’s regular-season MVP

Again, the White Sox probably didn’t care. Or if they did care, they were happy to hear it, drawing some motivation in a way that everyone can understand after watching “The Last Dance.”

But the way ESPN play-by-play announcer Chris Berman said, “You wouldn’t know that Chicago hit more home runs than Boston,” really said it all. Because anyone who didn’t know that — granted, the Red Sox scored more runs than any team in 2005 — simply hadn’t been watching.

The Red Sox pitching staff was atrocious in the season following their World Series win. Mr. Bloody Sock, Curt Schilling, had an ERA approaching 6.00. Same, too, for former White Sox closer Keith Foulke. No one in the Boston rotation had an ERA under 4.00. A Red Sox team that a season prior won it all started Clement and David Wells in Games 1 and 2 of their next trip to the playoffs. On the broadcast, the word “patchwork” was used to describe a Red Sox bullpen that had the AL’s highest ERA.

The White Sox wasted no time jumping all over that shaky staff, scoring eight runs off Clement before the second out of the fourth inning, then tagging the Red Sox ‘pen for another half dozen runs before Game 1 was over.

That, too, shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

While the final month of the season was indeed a white-knuckle ride that nearly ended with a dramatic collapse, the White Sox stayed on track enough to avoid missing out on October baseball. That was thanks in no small part to the efforts of Contreras, Konerko, Jermaine Dye and others. Anyone who watched this team all season long knew what they were capable of.

After bashing the brains of the defending champs in on national TV in their first playoff game, everyone knew.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 2 of the ALDS, airing at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Chicago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.