White Sox

White Sox relievers Ryan Burr and Ian Hamilton recreate notorious Burr-Hamilton duel

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@CHUCKGARFIEN

White Sox relievers Ryan Burr and Ian Hamilton recreate notorious Burr-Hamilton duel

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s been 215 years since Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton held their famous duel in Weehawken, N.J. Their long and bitter rivalry ended with Burr famously shooting Hamilton to his death.

But Sunday, the history between these two enemies was re-written, in of all places, the spring training clubhouse of the Chicago White Sox, where a modern-day version of Burr and Hamilton mended fences, settled their differences and became friends in a show of unity.

“Today we rewrote history," White Sox pitcher Ryan Burr said. "We went back in time and revisited the duel and changed the outcome a little bit."

“We came together, it was all about unity at the end," fellow White Sox pitcher Ian Hamilton said. "That’s basically the moral of the story. Don’t fight each other. Come together."

The two relievers with the famous last names have been linked together since becoming teammates with the White Sox Class-A team in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2017. Sunday, their job was to give the White Sox players, coaches, trainers and front office staff a lesson in U.S. history — and laughter.

Burr and Hamilton surprised everyone by walking into the clubhouse dressed as their namesakes, donning colonial era costumes.

“It was the Party City version of the closest we could find,” Hamilton said.

Burr put together a rough script for both of them to use. They each had a few talking points they wanted to convey to their teammates, many of whom had never heard the story and were probably wondering why Burr and Hamilton looked like they just came from a costume party.

“Nothing too serious, but we kind of winged it,” said Burr, who admitted that he first had to overcome a paralyzing bout of stage fright.

“I was more nervous than maybe I was in my major league debut,” Burr said. “I hate talking in front of people. I don’t know why. It gets me sometimes. I’m glad it’s over.”

Fortunately, this Burr had a friend he could count on in Hamilton.

“He was nervous. He was about to throw up before we were doing it,” Hamilton said. “I was telling him, ‘chill, chill, chill.’ It all ended up good. Lots of laughs.”

How do these two baseball players describe the events of that notorious duel from 1804?

“Hamilton and Burr were political rivals,” Burr explained. “Hamilton was talking smack about him throughout his political career and I think Aaron Burr eventually just had enough and said, you know what, let’s do something in the streets of New Jersey. It became a duel and he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.”

“I survived for a little bit,” said Hamilton, still in character.

How long did you survive?

“Long enough to go to New York, and then I died.”

“Thanks Wikipedia,” added Burr.

For the record, Burr and Hamilton cannot take credit for this brilliant idea of spring training comedy and unity.

“It came from the higher levels of this organization. We’ll leave it at that for now,” Burr admitted. “They didn’t make us. They just hinted that it would be something that would be good for the team and the clubhouse. There was a gentle push towards doing a skit. We had fun. That’s all that matters.”

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With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

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USA TODAY

With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

The White Sox starting rotation of the future won’t be complete until Michael Kopech returns from Tommy John surgery. It won’t be complete until Rick Hahn’s front office is done shopping this winter.

But what the team’s young pitchers, the ones throwing right now at the major league level, have done of late has to have everyone feeling good about the starting staff’s prospects in 2020.

Lucas Giolito called his most recent outing, a shutout of the high-powered Minnesota Twins, the “best I’ve ever felt pitching in my life.” Dylan Cease settled down nicely after some early struggles against the Texas Rangers on Friday and called his performance the best he’s had as a big leaguer. Reynaldo Lopez had to leave Sunday’s outing after just five innings, his days-old sickness a little too much to handle, but he didn’t allow a single hit before his departure.

All in all — and that includes recent strong showings from veterans Ivan Nova and Ross Detwiler, too — the rotation has a 2.09 ERA in the last seven games, five of which have ended in White Sox victories.

“We’re excited,” Lopez said through team interpreter Billy Russo after Sunday’s game. “This is a very, very exciting moment for all of us and for the organization.

“I think the expectations that you can have right now and that we have right now for the future are really, really high because we all know what we’re capable of doing. And if we’re just doing it right now, then it’s going to be just part of the process, just continuing doing what we’re doing right now.

“The learning process for all of us, for the young guys, has been outstanding. I think all of us have been learning a lot outing by outing and just putting those lessons on the field, too. It’s not just learning and, ‘OK, yes, learning this today and going to apply it in a week.’ No, you need to apply it right away and we’ve been doing that.

“I think you can see the results and for us as a group, it’s a very good moment.”

To those not so sure, there are perfectly valid reasons to be skeptical about the makeup of the 2020 rotation.

Lopez has been terrific since the All-Star break, his second-half ERA down to 2.82 after the five scoreless innings Sunday, but that doesn’t erase the woeful 6.34 number he had in the first half.

Cease has shown what everyone, including manager Rick Renteria, calls “electric stuff,” but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a 5.76 ERA and has allowed a homer in all nine starts he’s made since his promotion.

Giolito has been an ace but will have to show that his transformation from the guy who gave up more earned runs than any pitcher in baseball in 2018 into an All Star is permanent.

Kopech’s next start will be just his fifth as a big leaguer and will come, at the earliest, nearly 19 months after his fourth. And while the White Sox remain confident, there’s no telling, until we see him in action, what kind of pitcher he is following the surgery.

And though Hahn has pledged aggressiveness this offseason, we don’t know what kind of pitcher the White Sox will be able to add this winter.

But all that can be effectively countered by what’s happening right now before our eyes.

“They continue to mature, grow, learn,” Renteria said. “It's not necessarily the outcomes, even though you want those good outcomes to occur. It's what they're feeling in terms of what they believe they're capable of doing in certain moments. They're starting to trust themselves a little bit more and able to execute and get through games.”

No matter what the White Sox front office does this offseason, it figures to have four 2020 rotation spots spoken for: Giolito, Lopez, Cease and Kopech. That’s 80 percent of a rotation made up of homegrown arms, or if you’re a stickler on the definition of “homegrown,” guys acquired in those rebuild-jumpstarting trades in 2016 and 2017.

With Giolito and Lopez dealing of late and Cease getting positive reviews while going through his learning process in his first taste of the major leagues, Lopez’s words ring true. There should be excitement and high expectations for next season. These young arms and what they’re doing right now, not hypothetically but in reality, is part of what makes a transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020 look possible.

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In midst of no-hit bid, Reynaldo Lopez leaves game with dehydration and flu-like symptoms

In midst of no-hit bid, Reynaldo Lopez leaves game with dehydration and flu-like symptoms

Reynaldo Lopez might have thrown a no-hitter Sunday. But his body had other plans.

The White Sox pitcher completed five no-hit innings against the Texas Rangers before departing, suffering from dehydration and flu-like symptoms.

Though Lopez surely isn't feeling good about that, White Sox Twitter breathed a sigh of relief when the team provided that update in the seventh inning. Fans speculated something worse might have been bothering Lopez after he was removed in the middle of such a successful outing with just 80 pitches thrown.

Lopez finished his start with no runs and no hits allowed, six strikeouts, a pair of walks and a hit batter. The five scoreless innings dropped his second-half ERA to 2.82. His season ERA sits at 5.08.

Though Lopez left the game, ending his no-hit bid, the White Sox still had a shot at a combined no-hitter. But that dream died quickly, as the first batter Aaron Bummer faced in the top of the sixth singled.

What this might mean for Lopez's next scheduled turn in the rotation remains unknown. The White Sox will throw Lucas Giolito, Ross Detwiler and Dylan Cease in the three-game set against the Minnesota Twins next week. They then travel to take on the Atlanta Braves next weekend.

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