White Sox

White Sox Talk Podcast: White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper 'Tryouts are over. Now it's time to win'

USA Today

White Sox Talk Podcast: White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper 'Tryouts are over. Now it's time to win'

Host Chuck Garfien is joined by White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who is just as excited about the season as you are. Chuck and Don discuss the off-season moves made by the Sox, the chance to start winning a championship this season, and building a pitching staff around Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel.

(2:03) - What does the Sox aggressiveness in the off-season mean to you?

(4:09) - What does adding Dallas Keuchel do for the Sox?

(7:32) - Everyone is aware that the Sox are better

(10:16) - Sox adding playoff experience as well

(12:02) - Cooper jokes about this being his last decade of coaching

(15:30) - Building a staff and bullpen

(20:50) - Where is Kopech at in his return?

(22:49) - Dylan Cease analysis

(31:26) - What the pitching staff hopes to accomplish in 2020

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 


White Sox Talk Podcast


White Sox don't need Dallas Keuchel to be a 'savior,' but he can still set the tone

White Sox don't need Dallas Keuchel to be a 'savior,' but he can still set the tone

Mark Buehrle. Jon Lester.

No matter what side of town you want to invoke, the comparisons have already come for Dallas Keuchel.

Keuchel gets comp’d with Buehrle, the White Sox legendary left-hander who helped deliver a World Series in 2005, because of style. Hard-throwing strikeout kings they are not. Elite defenders who can get the job done by pitching to the defense behind them, that’s their game.

Keuchel gets the Lester nod mostly because of what’s going on around him. His arrival on the South Side, where the White Sox are primed to leap from rebuilding mode into contending mode, seems to mirror what happened with Lester on the North Side ahead of the 2015 season. Like Lester brought a packed resume to the Cubs, Keuchel comes to the White Sox with experience as a Cy Young winner and a World Series champ.

But Keuchel is not here to be the ace Buehrle was. And he’s not here to be the franchise-defining arm Lester was, either.

“He wasn’t brought in solely to be a savior,” general manager Rick Hahn said last week. “We’re not looking to him to pitch like a No. 1. If he does, which he’s capable of doing, fantastic. But we have other guys in this rotation and other guys coming that we think have the ability to pitch as No. 1s and No. 2s, and Dallas is just another part of that rotation.”

Don’t read that as a slight against the White Sox big free agent addition to the starting rotation. It’s more so praise of a collection of young arms the team believes contains several guys who can emerge as top-of-the-rotation talents.

Lucas Giolito’s already there after remaking himself into an All-Star last season and finishing sixth in the 2019 AL Cy Young vote. He’s the ace of the staff and the favorite to get the start on Opening Day. The guys behind him bring more questions than answers at this point, but if Dylan Cease can put the rookie year growing pains in the rearview mirror, if Reynaldo Lopez can find some consistency to match his flashes of brilliance and Michael Kopech can be the pitcher who was promised prior to his Tommy John surgery, then yeah, Keuchel will be just another part of the rotation — in a very good way.

“There’s a lot of deep prospects in this organization,” Keuchel said in the early days of White Sox camp. “I threw a bullpen (the day before pitchers and catchers officially reported). … I was very thankful that I threw mine (that day) because some of these guys were coming out of the tank throwing 93 or 95 with little amount of effort.

“The talent is endless. We just have to kind of get working on the mental state of some of these guys. Get them ready for the big league life and the ups and downs of Major League Baseball.”

But none of this is to suggest that Keuchel is going to kick back and take a backseat to the youngsters over the next three years (or four, should he pitch well enough that the White Sox pick up that option for the 2023 season). Part of the reason he was brought in was to be a leader, to set the tone for the starting staff — even if the elite potential of some of these younger arms lead to numbers more in line with the traditional description of an ace.

“There’s different ways to set the tone,” Hahn said. “There’s the ability to eat up innings. There’s the ability to come up with a big start when the bullpen needs a relief and perhaps we’ve had a couple short outings from other guys. And there’s a way of setting the tone simply by how he goes about his business on a daily basis and showing guys how to be a professional and showing guys how to deal with, hopefully, the stress and expectations of a pennant race.”

Reliability. Dependability. Stability. Other -bilities.

The young guys might have the gas, but they don’t have all those things yet. And that’s what makes Keuchel a unique and powerful presence within this group. Even in the early days of spring training, he made a habit of chatting up his fellow hurlers.

“He has naturally gravitated to giving pitchers some of his observations and insight,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's a bright man. I mean, he can articulate a message. You can articulate a concept and maybe give insight. When you're able to put words to insight and connect with your teammates, it's very valuable.”

Don’t let all this talk of not needing to pitch like a No. 1 and providing pearls of wisdom let you believe that Keuchel is some creaky old man who won’t be a primary piece of the White Sox chase for a playoff spot in 2020. He most definitely will be. Keuchel might not be set to embark upon another Cy Young campaign like his dazzling 2015 season — a 2.48 ERA and 216 strikeouts in an AL-high 232 innings — but he’s just two years removed from facing more hitters than any pitcher in baseball.

Keuchel might not need to pitch like a No. 1 to live up to the White Sox expectations for him this season. But he might just do it anyway, whether the numbers say it’s likely or not.

The numbers didn’t much like Buehrle, either.

“Honestly this is the best I've felt in a number of years. So that really helps out the mental edge coming in,” he said. “This game is always going to be about commanding the baseball and just knowing how to pitch.

“The guys with elite velocity and elite this and that, plus command are the guys who year-in, year-out are in for Cy Youngs and this and that. But at the end of the day it's always going to be about command. That's where guys' average stuff makes them better and that's where I include myself.

“Analytics always has a tough time with me, and I think that's a good thing, though, for me as well. Sometimes it can be a little disappointing just from the fact that they can't draw numbers on me because the numbers say I'm not that good. But then again, you look at my resume and see all this stuff and you think, ‘How can that be?’

“I'm hoping to help out future generations of players, and I think this game will never change in that aspect.”

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Edwin Encarnacion believes Eloy Jimenez can hit over 500 home runs

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Edwin Encarnacion believes Eloy Jimenez can hit over 500 home runs

If there’s someone inside the White Sox clubhouse who knows Eloy Jimenez best, it’s probably new designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Their friendship dates back to 2012 when Jimenez was attending a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.  One day, Encarnacion came by to watch his nephew play at the same facility, but almost instantly, he was caught up in the wow factor of this young, skinny teenager who had an innate ability to crush baseballs.

“That was the first time I saw Eloy.  He was 14, hitting bombs to the opposite field.  I was very impressed when I saw him for the first time, “ Encarnacion said in a joint interview with Jimenez on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Jump ahead eight years to this offseason. Encarnacion was a free agent looking for a place to play, and a teammate to join him in punishing opposing pitchers.

“When the White Sox came to me, I started thinking about Eloy.  We can play together. That’s the first thing that came to my mind, because I know this kid for a long time,” Encarnacion said.  “We are very close, our families are very close. It’s going to be an exciting year, a very fun year for us. The talent this team has, everybody knows what this team has.  The young talent, they want to win. Why not? Why not come here?”

And now after seeing Jimenez belt 31 homers in 122 games in his rookie season, Encarnacion believes the young White Sox slugger is just getting started.   

A truly special career could be coming---yes, the kind that winds up in the Hall of Fame.

“As a baseball player, he can be whatever he wants to be.  He has the talent to hit over 500 homers in the major leagues.  I know he can do it,” Encarnacion said about Jimenez. 

500 homers?  That’s icon territory. We’re talking about a group that includes Frank Thomas, Mickey Mantle, David Ortiz, Ernie Banks and Ted Williams.  Giant names, generational players. Even a stud like Encarnacion probably won’t reach that milestone level. He’s hit 414 home runs. No small feat. That’s more than Hall of Famers Al Kaline, Jim Rice, Tony Perez, Harold Baines, and new inductee Larry Walker.

But 500?

Encarnacion sees an even greater career coming for the White Sox left fielder with the charismatic face and gargantuan home run potential.

What does Jimenez think about Encarnacion’s lofty prediction?

“That’s good.  When a superstar tells you that, how are going to feel?  Amazing,” Jimenez said. “I’m going to keep working to do that”

And that last line is precisely why Encarnacion believes Jimenez has a chance to become a member of the 500 club one day.

He’ll work and work and work--and will never let fame or money get to his head.

“Where he comes from with his family, they are very strong.  They talk with him and his brother. He’s not going to change. No matter how much money he makes and what he does, he’s not going to change and he will do the team right.  That’s why I believe a lot in this guy. I know that in the next 10 years, you guys are going to remember this,” Encarnacion said.

We’ll definitely save it for our records, and maybe one day for Cooperstown.

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