White Sox

White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel enduring another troubling wait for baseball

White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel enduring another troubling wait for baseball

Dallas Keuchel knows from experience what it’s like to have something so central to your life get completely stripped away.

As we all wait out the global pandemic that has stopped most of the world in its tracks, the White Sox pitcher is also faced with the daily concern that the coronavirus could touch one of his closest family members, his older sister, who’s on the front lines of the fight.

“I pray to the good lord every day that this thing ends quicker than later,” Keuchel said in an interview on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

As important as baseball is to Keuchel, it takes a backseat to the real-world problems of the pandemic and the concern that its invisible tentacles could touch his sister, Krista, a registered nurse who works at a hospital in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I know she is on the front line helping people. I do pray for her every day, just to make sure that she’s safe,” Keuchel said.

The realities of being a hospital worker in these conditions have become all too real for Keuchel and his family.

“She’s got two kids, a husband. It would be devastating for her to come into contact with it or anything associated with it because she’s told me that when she comes home from work she has to change outside in the garage, and have the kids in another room, and then go shower immediately before she comes in contact with them because of the fear of the spread,” Keuchel explained. “She works her butt off.

“I’m very proud to be her brother, but at a time like this it worries me. She worries me a lot.”

Like everyone living through these unparalleled and unknowable times, Keuchel's priority is the health and safety of his family.

But as the baseball world idles, hoping to hear word on when it can start spinning again, Keuchel endures his second such wait in as many years.

Go back a year to this very time when the league was up and running. Baseball filled the air, though not for Keuchel. He was stuck at home in limbo, without a team, without a contract, trying to stay in shape not knowing if or when he’d be back on a professional mound in 2019.

He and fellow free agent Craig Kimbrel drew a line in the sand against the powers that be, missing out on spring training and the first two months of the season, holding out for contracts they believe they deserved.

“Where the game was at last year for myself and Craig Kimbrel, it was to set off for the greater good of the players, for the players' purposes for the CBA coming up and what we stand for,” Keuchel said. “It was Craig and myself at the forefront. Hopefully that serves well.”

Keuchel eventually signed with the Braves on June 7. Kimbrel signed with the Cubs the same day.

RELATED: 10 questions with Dallas Keuchel, White Sox starting pitcher

But here we are, one year later. The game has been shut down. And despite signing a three-year $55.5 million contract with the White Sox this offseason, Keuchel is doing the math in his head, calculating how much baseball he’s missing. He’s in his 30s at a time when a pitcher’s shelf life is limited — and it troubles him.

“For me to sit out three months last year, it really ate at me for quite a few times, and I had to tell myself, ‘Hey, it’s all going to work out.’ But now this year with the virus happening, I’m adding up three months of last year and then potentially three or maybe more months of this year, that’s a whole season that I don’t get back in the course of my career which I’d love to be on the field,” Keuchel said. “I’m not a selfish guy by any means, but who knows what kind of numbers I could have put up in the three months last year and the three months this year. Everybody is in the same boat this year with this pandemic that’s going on.

“That’s something that will probably eat at me and be in the back of my mind for a very long time.”

From the sound of it, Major League Baseball is open to trying almost anything to get the players back on the field, assuming they get the green light from medical and scientific professionals.

Play the season at spring training sites in Florida and Arizona?

“It’s kind of just throw an idea in the barrel, swirl it around and see what comes out,” Keuchel said. “It’s just ideas for days now, I guess, and whatever makes sense or doesn't make sense still makes sense.”

Which three months ago wouldn’t have made any sense. A pandemic suspending the season? That’s a movie you’d have to pay me to watch. Instead, it’s become real life.

Trying to predict the future and when baseball will return is impossible at this point. We’re still in the middle of the storm. And while Keuchel isn’t a doctor or scientist, he feels deep down in his gut that the sport will return in 2020. He can’t think any other way.

“I don’t know when it’s going to be, but I will not let my mind go to, ‘This is a wash of a season.’ Until that happens I say we’re going to play. That’s what I’ll think no matter who tells me what until there’s word that it’s done. I still think we’re going to play.”

If that happens, he foresees the sport helping to heal the country.

“I saw what baseball can do for a city in Houston in 2017 after the hurricane. It was something that you see out of a movie. The city just wrapped itself around the baseball team. It was something that still gives me goosebumps to this day,” Keuchel said.

So we’ll wait for the skies to clear and hope that day comes.

“I think baseball could be a huge remedy for what’s going on in America right now. It’s such a traditional sport that I think people would just love to see it back being played back live. Having a hot dog, eating popcorn and drinking a beer in the stands or whatever is going to happen.

“I think that’s what people would flock to.”

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White Sox Insider Notes: Andrew Vaughn expands versatility at third base

White Sox Insider Notes: Andrew Vaughn expands versatility at third base

It’s not uncommon for baseball players to be seen working out at positions they usually don’t play in games. Heck, Jose Abreu somewhat regularly takes groundballs at shortstop.

But in the case of Andrew Vaughn – the White Sox’s No. 3 overall draft pick in 2019 – working out at third base this week, there might be something there. In fact, when Rick Renteria was asked if third base is a position Vaughn can handle, the manager immediately said, “I do.”

“He's got really good feet, his exchange is very good,” Renteria said. “He's got a very good arm. He has all the makings of being able to play that position.”

Someone jumping to major conclusions might suggest that the White Sox are grooming Vaughn to play third base this season in case Yoan Moncada, who is still absent from camp, can’t. While Vaughn having a contribution in 2020 can’t be completely ruled out, it’s important to remember that he didn’t play above High-A ball last season and isn’t being helped by the lack of a minor league season this year. He’s simply one of the high-profile prospects the White Sox are still trying to develop in camp, while also preparing for a regular season.

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“When we got (back to Chicago), the work in terms of trying to get him to have the ability to do a little bit more has come into play,” Renteria said. “So we put him over there with an understanding that we'd continue to work and be mindful obviously of what he's capable of doing. There are several of us that believe he's capable of moving around.”

Ultimately, that’s what this is about. Many within the organization believe Vaughn can be more than a first baseman and the White Sox are using this opportunity to increase his versatility.

“The worst-case scenario would be him just not doing anything,” Renteria said. “Any time you're around baseball, any time you're around the highest level of players that exist in the game, any time you're following routines, things that are helping you learn something about your skill set, it's always a plus.”

It may just be a short three-week period, but the White Sox are trying to maximize Vaughn’s time at Guaranteed Rate Field, knowing developmental time could be limited the rest of 2020. He’s very much in the team’s plans, perhaps even in the short term.

“I look at him as a baseball player. He is a young man that is very bright and that I believe would be able to make adjustments,” Renteria said. “Would anybody say he'll go hiccup free? No. But certainly don't have any lack of confidence in his ability to make a transition should he need to do it. Bare minimum, we allow him to continue to expand his flexibility and value to a ballclub.”

Moncada, Kopech updates

Not much has changed with the two high-profile players that came over in the Chris Sale trade. Neither Moncada or Michael Kopech are currently with the team in camp, but there is some hope that Moncada won’t miss a ton of time.

“Obviously Moncada will be back soon,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said during his Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.

The White Sox haven’t given an official reason for Moncada’s absence, although two unnamed players tested positive for COVID-19 during last week’s intake. Kopech is dealing with a personal issue.

“It's a fluid situation and we'll deal with it as it arises, so I can't really give you any update,” Renteria said about Kopech. “Just to know that we have the ability to have him return with us.”

First intrasquad game plan

Unlike other teams that jumped right into intrasquad games, the White Sox have eased into camp slowly, showing some patience. But that changes Thursday with the first game scheduled for 1:10 p.m. The White Sox will play four innings and the scheduled pitchers include: Steve Cishek, Aaron Bummer, Ross Detwiler, Carson Fulmer and Drew Anderson, although Renteria teased some sort of surprise.

“We got a few sides and then there's a couple guys that we might be able to add,” he said. “That may be your little surprise piece for tomorrow.”

Know this: it will be the most anticipated intrasquad game in White Sox history.



Chicago White Sox fans can order cardboard cutouts to sit in stands

Chicago White Sox fans can order cardboard cutouts to sit in stands

Diehard White Sox fans will have a new way to show their South Side pride this season.

The team announced on Wednesday that 1,500 fans will be allowed to purchase a cardboard cutout of themselves to “sit” in the stands during Sox home games.

The cutouts cost $49, with net proceeds benefiting White Sox charities. All fans need to do is submit their payment along with a photo and their contact information, and the White Sox will take care of the rest.

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If you’re unsure what makes a great cardboard cutout photo, don’t worry, the team has you covered. They published a “FANtastic Faces” submission guide to help snap the perfect pic.

Other teams, like the Oakland A’s have launched similar campaigns. And cardboard cutouts have become a staple in Korean baseball as well.

Only question now: will cardboard vendors come around with cardboard hotdogs for those cardboard cutouts?

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